Last time, we discussed 4 things that are important for developing resilience in the face of sexual abuse. Today, we will continue with the other 4 essentials in building such resilience.

5. Helpful life circumstances. The environment we live in is also important in building resilience. It does not matter if the environment is positive or negative, but it has to be challenging enough to foster resiliency. As defined, resilience is the ability to deal with turbulence. By encountering challenge and overcoming them, we are building resilience naturally, as well as the sense of self-worth. With the resilience built from other challenges, we can use the skills to better deal with the stress from sexual abuse.

6. Coping strategies. In order to overcome an adversity, we must develop some kind of coping strategy. Some of the strategy, such as prayer, positive self-talk, setting limits and boundaries, or using symbols, are positive and healthy. However, some others, like drug and alcohol abuse or excessive smoking, are unhealthy. Nevertheless, all these coping strategies work if they could help us to get over the sorrow. It is important to realize whether the strategy we are using is healthy or not. If it is, then we should keep the habit so that it can further foster our resilience in the future. However, for those that are not healthy, we should try our best restrain from those behaviors and only use them to cope with serious stress when necessary.

7. Active healing. To heal from the trauma, we first need to directly confront the abuse or its memory. Then, we can pursue an active and conscious process of healing. When we admit the abuse and our sorrow, we will feel easier to talk about it with others. Group counseling can be helpful in that it allows us to share our story with people with similar experience. The group members understand each other better, and can thus provide better support than other people. Also, we can heal by having dreams that contain happy memories. This method can help us bring ourselves out of the sorrow. However, none of these can be achieved if we do not acknowledge the fact that the trauma has happened and we are sad.

8. Achieving closure. After all the healing process, it is necessary that we bring a closure to the negative experience. There are different means to achieve this, but a closure should end all the negative emotions associated with the event, such as pain, hatred, sorrow, and so on. A good way to achieve closure is to forgive, both ourselves and the abuser. By forgiving, we stopped letting the abuse defining us and controlling our behaviors and decisions. We have to understand sometimes it is just luck – the offender did not mean to hurt us personally. Forgiving can allow us to let go of the negative emotions and become more mature and resilient. Then, we can move on to the next chapter of our lives with better resilience.

This article was based on results from a research article.