I wanted to reach out to all survivors who have spoken out and told their stories and to those who realize that they are survivors but have remained silent. All survivors have the right to heal, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, country of origin, regardless of anything.
So where to start? Not keeping the secret, can be a great place to start, because it is the perpetrators secret, not your secret. But as you disclose, you may find that there are some who are very supportive and others who want you to remain silent, blame you, call you crazy, tell you to forgive and forget. Or if you are a male you may have even been told it could not have happened to you or being made fun of. That is not okay that people would not support any survivor. Or if you were abused by a female the lie that females do not sexually assault others. Any unsupportive response can be treated as a warning that this person who is unsupportive, is a person to stay away from because at the least, they don’t support you and at the most they are pro-perpetrators or perpetrators themselves. Staying away from unhealthy people can help so much in the healing process, even if those people you are staying away from and no longer communicating with are your family. There may be some time when you feel like you have “lost” many of your friends and family. But real friends and family are supportive, so what you are truly loosing is an illusion of real family or real friends. As you heal, you will attract healthy people into your life and want to be around unhealthy people less and less.
What else can you do to heal? As survivors, emotions and memories from the abuse may have gotten stuck inside. Those emotions and memories can be released and detoxed. A symptom of stuck emotions or memories can be identified by feeling emotions or extreme emotions that you are feeling for “no logical reason”, such as suddenly you feel sad or depressed or extreme anger for “no apparent reason”. Or you feel those feelings in an extreme way that feels justified to you such as road rage. When looking at extreme emotions such as road rage, we may realize or the people watching us may help us realize that it is not a justified emotion but instead an extreme response that may have to do with stuffed down feelings or memories. I wrote more about dealing with this at https://healingfromsexualabuse.com/ideas-for-healing-from-abuse/what-to-do-when-you-feel-triggered/
Also reaching out for support can be very helpful. But it is important to know that there are a ton of people who are in the helping organizations and professions who are not helpful and can even be mean. So keep reaching out until you get great help. Great help is a person who believes you and has the tools to help you to heal from the abuse. They should help you to realize that you are able to heal from the abuse and have a great life. I do not advise working with people who want to take away your autonomy and make you reliant on them or on drugs or herbs to heal. As a survivor you need help in detoxing from the abuse, not stuffing back those emotions and memories or being told you have chemical imbalance.
When you reach out for help, if you are in the US you can try calling 1-800-656-HOPE a 24/7 hotline that should connect you with a local rape crisis center(many have free counselling). If they are helpful that is great, if not hang up and try again later (volunteers change shifts). If they are repeatedly not helpful, try another hotline or online chat at https://rainn.org/get-help also or google around and keep calling therapists, social workers and others in the helping profession. Remember that there can be unhelpful or even mean people at places that are suppose to help, so if you find one of those hang up or if you are in their office, leave. You have the right to work with healthy people who have the tools to help you to detox from the abuse.
If you are a male survivor, you can also go to http://www.malesurvivor.org/ and the have online groups and in person conferences. Another great resource for male survivors is https://1in6.org/get-information/myths/. Again always be listening to yourself to see if the people you are working with are supportive or not. Another interesting article if you are a male survivor or female survivor of female perpetrated sexual assault, you are not alone this article “The Understudied Female Sexual Predator” https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/11/the-understudied-female-sexual-predator/503492/ may be helpful.
So keep taking action, you can do it, you can heal.