Living in this turbulent world, we encounter different adversities. Some of them are easy to resolve, and some others take a lot longer. Sexual abuse can be one of the hardest adversities to overcome in life. Nevertheless, it happens to almost 1 in every 5 women in America. There are a lot of survivors who are willing to share their stories and to help those in need. This 2-part series will list 8 important things for those who would like to develop resilience in the face of sexual abuse-related trauma. Here are the first 4 essentials:

1. Interpersonal skills. Sense of community and support is one of many things that make humans different from other animals. When bad things happen, it is important that we connect with other people appropriately and meaningfully, so that we can have intimate and supporting relationships. With the support from loved ones, we can feel stronger and less lonely. Therefore, we should not be afraid of reaching out. We need to speak up when we have something to say, be enthusiastic and optimistic towards life and relationships, and look for appropriate support from the right people.

2. Competence. Focusing on something that we are good at and interested in is a good way to distance ourselves from unpleasant aspects of reality and to counterbalance the hardship we experience. Moreover, it gives us a sense of accomplishment and confidence, which can help increase our self-worth. This, in turn, gives us more power to deal with stress from unfortunate events. To develop a new competence, start by picking something you are interested in; then put regular effort into doing and practicing the activity. Most importantly, you need to make sure that you always experience joy when doing the hobby so that it serves its role as a resilience builder.

3. High self-regard. How we think about ourselves shapes our resilience as well. In order to conquer adversity, we have to believe that we are worthwhile, and deserve to live a happy and positive life. We have to realize that we are not defined by luck, nor by other people, or what has happened to us. With high self-regard, we take control and responsibility for our life. Then, we will start working to make our lives better and happier, and be able eventually walk out of the shadows of sexual abuse. Self-regard develops over time. Thinking positively and not putting too much pressure on ourselves can help a lot.

4. Spirituality. Religious faith can serve as a good source of emotional support. The belief that there is someone who will always love us and accept us no matter who we are warms our hearts. This acceptance also shines hope on our lives and encourages us not to give up. However, if a particular religion does not give unmerited love but judges us a lot, it is not a good source giving support. The key of having a religion here is to be spiritual and positive. Even for atheist, believing that we should not be judged by luck does the same thing as religion in the recovery of sexual abuse. This connects back to the importance of high self-regard – spiritual support can help build self-regard, thus building resilience.


This article was based on results from a research article.