Best Practice #2 is focused on who we spend our time with. In Best Practice #3 you'll see our focus change to establishing boundaries relating to the behavior of those who we have chosen to be with, as well as our own behavior.

You Have the Right to Choose

When your sexual boundaries were violated, your perpetrator took away your right to choose. It's time to take it back! 

We know that may be easier said than done but in order to unwind the results of childhood sexual abuse, it's important to recognize and acknowledge what happened. Many survivors don't want to admit that they were victims of a crime because it makes them feel scared and vulnerable or it forces them to admit that if they were the victim of a crime then the person perpetrating the crime is a criminal. That may be very difficult to do if the perpetrator was a parent or someone else they loved or cared for. We understand.

However, if you can accept that someone wrongly took away your right to choose in those moments and that THEY HAD NO RIGHT to do so, then you can make your way to believing and claiming that YOU DO HAVE A RIGHT TO CHOOSE in all the other circumstances of your life. You have a right to decide who you spend time with. You have a right to decide where you work and where you go. You have a right to decide what types of activities you want to participate in. Claiming the right to choose gives you the power to protect yourself and make healthy choices that build your future, rather than reflect your past.

It's Time to Make Conscious and Safe Choices

Now that you have accepted your right to choose, are you prepared to make good choices? One of the most common consequences of child sexual abuse is the survivor's inability to distinguish between safe people and dangerous people, between safe places and dangerous places, between safe activities and dangerous activities, often resulting in revictimization. Because survivors were not afforded safety as children, their expectations may be distorted and they simply may not know what safety looks like. Survivors may naturally gravitate to what is familiar (unsafe) or as a protection mechanism they may "shut down" or disassociate when they sense danger, leaving them unavailable to make a conscious choice.

It's important to rewrite your safety rules, kind of a "do over" of sorts. In the process, you establish new limits that serve you well as an adult and most importantly, you reconnect with your inate inner voice as discussed in Gaven de Becker's book The Gift of Fear.

Intuition Gavin de Becker

Respecting and Nurturing the Inner Child 

As survivors go through the process of re-establishing limits that serve them well as adults, they sometimes find that what seems to be "safe" for other adults, doesn't feel safe for them. Traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse can leave behind a "wounded child" within, who is terrified of certain people, places or activities - this is sometimes referred to as arrested development or the inner child. It's okay, it's common.

As you learn more about the concept of arrested development, you'll gain a new understanding of your inner child and learn to respect if he/she needs to have more stringent access limits, beyond what you may need to feel safe as an adult. As you get to know the needs of your inner child you'll learn to nurture him/her through the natural, though somewhat delayed, maturation and healing process.