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Stages of Healing

I found this article among my paperwork today. Honestly, I can't remember if I wrote it or got it from somewhere else. It sounds like "me" but that doesn't mean it is me. Nevertheless, it is a really good article (if I do say so myself haha) and want to share it with you. And if you have seen this somewhere before, please let me know so I can give it proper credit.


Healing takes time, and every SSA survivor heals at their own pace and in their own way. While many stages in the healing process are important for everyone, some stages—like the chaos stage, remembering the abuse, and confronting family—may not apply to everyone. It’s important for you to seek professional help to get the care and support you need.

The Decision to Heal

When you recognize the effects of sibling sexual abuse in your life, you need to make an active decision to heal. Deep healing happens when you choose it and are willing to make changes. I know it is a touch decision to make, but it is worth it.

The Chaos Stage

Starting to deal with memories and suppressed feelings can make your life feel chaotic. Remember, this is just a stage, and it won’t last forever.


Many survivors suppress all memories of what happened to them as children. Even those who remember the incidents might forget how it felt at the time. Remembering the details means getting back both the memory and the feelings, and it is the feelings that can make this stage difficult to navigate.

Believing It Happened

Many adult survivors doubt their own experiences. Believing that your sibling was abusive, and that it truly hurt you in many different ways, is a crucial part of healing.

Breaking Silence

Most adult survivors of sibling sexual abuse kept the abuse a secret in childhood. Telling someone else about what happened is a powerful healing force that can help stop the shame of being a victim.

Understanding That It Wasn’t Your Fault

As a child, you may have thought the abuse was your fault. As an adult survivor, it’s important to place the blame where it belongs—on the abuser, not on yourself. This is an important stage to work through.

Making Contact with the Child Within

Many survivors have lost touch with their own vulnerability. Connecting with the child within can help you feel compassion for yourself, more anger at the abusive sibling, and greater intimacy with others.

Trusting Yourself

Your inner voice is the best guide for healing. Learning to trust your own perceptions, feelings, and intuition forms a new basis for how you act in the world.


As children being abused, and later as adults struggling to survive, most sibling sexual abuse survivors haven’t felt their losses, directly associated with SSA or other types of losses in life. It is hard to allow ourselves to "go there" as we often feel we may just "stay there". Grieving is a way to acknowledge the pain, let it go, and move into the present.


Anger is a powerful and freeing force. Whether you need to get in touch with it or have always had plenty to spare, directing your emotional rage (not physical) at the the sibling who abused you and those who didn’t protect you is crucial to healing. It is okay to be angry.

Disclosures and Discussions

Directly discussing the abuse with the sibling and other family members isn’t for everyone, but it can be a dramatic and helpful tool for some.

Resolution and Moving Forward

As you go through these stages again and again - as they are not linear and are rarely complete - you’ll reach a point of integration. Your feelings and perspectives will stabilize. You’ll come to terms with the abuse, the abuser, and other family members. You'll engage more with your life, authentically and fully.

While the healing journey won’t erase history, you will make deep and lasting changes in your life. With increased awareness, compassion, and strength from healing, you’ll have the chance to work towards a better future.

(The MeQ Journal may be a useful healing tool for some. Please check it out here.)



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