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"I didn't tell a counselor, not any of the five or six I'd had throughout the years until I was 21 years old. Though I could easily tell them about my mental health otherwise, it took over 7 years to seek professional help for the aftermath of my experience with sexual abuse.
I was scared of blankets for three years. I was terrified of men who were bigger than me for five. But seven is the number of years it took me to finally seek help.
The help was sought out as a result of a serious relationship and my caring partner's gentle nudge. As intimacy came into play in this relationship, we both realized that approaching it healthily required some outside help.
The questions that followed my admission and recollection of what happened were unpleasant. I had to specify what was said, where I was touched, how my consent was breached. When? How many times? How often? Reliving this brought back the pain I had refused to admit for so many years. At the same time, I knew that admitting what happened was the first step in my healing process.
I think about why I didn't seek help sooner all the time. It's as if telling someone other than a friend would make it real. If I finally told someone what happened, it had to be true. I didn't want it to be true, I just wanted it to go away. There was also the fear of a professional not believing me. I knew a friend would, but what if this professional thought I was making things to be worse than they were?
After seven years, I am finally starting to close up the rest of this wound. I don't panic when sharing a blanket anymore, I no longer break down in tears in the face of intimacy, the guilt is disappearing from my choice to say no, and the man I am marrying towers over me.
Healing is possible. It has no timeline. It requires trust in a professional and belief in the results. I now know that I didn't seek help because I wasn't ready. I didn't quite trust the professionals I had been working with. I wasn't ready to talk about it yet, and that's okay. What's important is that I've started to heal at all."