Written by: Phindile Le Bris Sithole-Spong
Not too long ago I wrote an article about how being raped as a toddler still affects me today. Many months have passed since that article and the number of emails and messages I receive to this day astounds me. Not because I am surprised by how so many women have gone through a similar experience. But because I thought I was the only one who was living with the life long ramifications of my past. I can tell you first hand that even through therapy and lots of communication, I still find myself needing emotional support from my partner. Especially when it comes to the bedroom. Without going into too much detail, I will say that communication and honesty has been the backbone of my marriage.
Having someone I trust implicitly has helped so much when I am feeling disconnected sexually or even just physically. Given that I was sexually assaulted by someone I trusted, makes it harder sometimes (even with a loving partner) to make out what is real and what is not. Somehow my toddler brain (I was 5 when I was raped) still tries to find signs of wrong doing. Or a reason to pull back and run away.
One thing I have learnt time and time again is that time does not heal all wounds. It can make them easier to live with. But being violated in anyway can take a lifetime and then some to get over. So be patient with yourself. As long as you are putting in the work, finding the support you need and moving forward, even just an inch. You are doing enough.
It’s also ok to sometimes wallow in the loss. One thing I realized not too long ago is how quickly I told myself to not feel sorry for myself. To not indulge my past pain or trauma. But sometimes it’s hard not to. Especially when I am highly triggered by watching or seeing news of something similar happening to someone else. being an empath means that more often than not I relive my own trauma. And feel the pain and loss all over again. So it’s ok to take time to feel the pain. You did lose something and you have every right to feel what ever it is you feel. Whether it’s anger, pain or just numb. Thats ok. The trick is to remember to seek help where you can. Speak to a friend, partner, family member or therapist.
I’ve also learnt to give myself a time frame to feel sorry for myself. Usually I don’t sit with the pain, fear and anger for more than a day. As a mom o a toddler, I also cannot give myself more than that and try to remind myself of what is good in the world. About my family, my daughter and how much I have been able to achieve. I also take the time that I cannot be productive to practice radical self care. This includes working out, taking a bath, playing in the park for hours with my daughter and cooking.