One of the biggest ways that sexually abused women cope with their pain is by wearing a “mask”. They put on a façade that they are doing alright, do not feel any emotional pain, and are happy. As little girls, they do not fully understand all there is to know about sexual abuse and how to cope with such a traumatic incident. As children, it is typical for them to think that such sexual behavior is normal. They might think that it happens to everyone their age. As they grow older, they realize the gravity of the situation; how wrong it actually is. Most of them end up feeling dirty and ashamed of being a victim of sexual abuse. They tend to feel afraid of people finding out the truth about them so they mask who they are, hiding away the victim and all the emotions that go along with being one. They envelop themselves in denial and secrecy and find it difficult to put trust in others. This makes it difficult for sexual abuse victims to establish quality relationships with other people in their life, and other new people they meet.
Beneath the façade, all the effects of sexual abuse continue on their cycle. The effects of molestation are far and wide. They can manifest in the victim in the form of eating disorders, obsessive compulsiveness, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even self-injury. These women are so afraid and full of shame that they believe they are absolutely worthless and devoid of value. This shame is also exactly what gives power and confidence to the offender. The spectacle of a torn and fearful victim is what entices them to continue committing their toxic cycle of abuse.
The way out of this is to help these victims understand that even with their past, they still have value as a person, more than they can imagine. Confronting the painful memories of the past couple with facing and coming to terms with their true emotional hurt are all part of the process of healing. Given the proper support from a strong group of family and friends, there is no reason that sexually abused women cannot recover from their past traumas.