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  • Kristin Miller, PhD, Psychologist, DCEP

What Does Freedom, Recovery, and Empowerment From Sexual Abuse Mean for You?

FREEDOM - Freedom is the ability to determine how and with whom you will connect and the right to move about your communities with the expectation that you will be respected, safe, and honored. This freedom has been taken sometimes violently from many of those who have been sexually assaulted and sometimes never know for those who have grown up or worked in sexually abusive situations. Reclaiming your freedom involves identifying sexually demeaning and abusive components in your relationships, understanding how you would like to connect with others, and asserting yourselves in your relationships. This expands into our communities as we all stand together and educate our communities about how to connect free of abuse.

RECOVERY - Recovery is the ability to connect with yourself, understand the impact that sexual abuse has had on you, and learning skills to manage this reaction. Whether it was a single assault or ongoing abuse, your system responds with a stress reaction which can include anxiety, anger, fear, jumpiness, feeling spacey, unable to connect, sleep problems, going over and over the event, and or just shutting down. Recovery involves engaging with yourself with compassion and understanding, feeling again, and building a set of skills to help soothe the reaction. It is time to start experimenting with some of the tools on the FREA website and finding out which work for you. Recovery in our communities means coming together and teaching all how to self-sooth and connect with compassion and respect.

EMPOWERMENT - Empowerment enables you to stand tall in your own life with a full set of skills to identify and speak out about abusive acts, calm emotional reactions from abuse, and strong healthy sexual boundaries that are respected and honored. Sexual abuse whittles away at your self-esteem, creates a feelings of shame, and a sense of helplessness and worthlessness. As you begin to heal, your sense of worth and power will come back and you will be able to reclaim your life and teach others how you want to be treated. Empowered communities support all in speaking their truth and learning how to connect with compassion and understanding.

ABUSE - Sexual abuse occurs when sexual contact is made without consent. This can be as simple as walking through cat calls on your way to the store or tolerating negative or unwanted sexual comments about your body in your relationships or participating in training programs that use sexually demeaning terms to motivate people. It can become much more personal, as people use their power to manipulate you into allowing contact because you feel you have no choice, are helpless, or have been raised to believe that the only way to be loved is to allow yourself to be used sexually. At its extreme, sexual abuse can be a violent override your physical and sexual boundaries. No matter what you have experienced, sexual contact without consent, respect for your boundaries, compassion, and a full understanding of how you want to connect is abuse.

WHAT DOES FREA MEAN FOR YOU - We have built FREA to support you in being able to identify ways that sexual abuse has affected you and your community. Please join together with us on our FREA website so that you can access information, skills and resources to become free, recover, and be empowered within your life and your community.

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