• Telling your story is different if you experienced trauma in childhood than it is for someone who didn’t. That’s because childhood trauma has biological impacts on your brain and body.
• Some survivors can become activated (either hypo- or hyper-aroused) when telling their story. Sometimes survivors can become as activated as they were at the time of the original trauma.
• Telling your story can be either be helpful or unhelpful, at different times. While it can help you make meaning of what happened it can be also be traumatising.
At times, there are big hurdles and sometimes you don’t feel like dredging up any more crap. You get tired of the gut churning feelings, but the pain is just below the surface at all times anyway and facing it has really helped it to lose its powerful hold over me. Sometimes it is hard to talk about things. I just allow the emotions and pain to come up and I try to ride with it. Then when I feel comfortable enough I speak of why I am feeling the way I am… (study participant in van Loon & Kralik, 2005c).
Some professionals feel that little is to be gained by going back over past experiences. Others believe that telling your story relieves the burden of carrying your history around, as though it is the sum total of who you are. Your child abuse and trauma is not your whole story. Talking helps to put those past experiences outside of you, and disconnect the issues they raise from who you are, so you are able to separate yourself from the experiences (van Loon & Kralik, 2005c). Some survivors decide that they do not need to dig too deep because the process of exploring their past may become re-traumatising (van Loon & Kralik, 2005b). Some survivors believe that it is important to acknowledge their abuse and speak about its impacts, rather than the details of what happened (van Loon & Kralik, 2005b).
It is important only to share your story when and if you feel ready to do so, and only within a safe environment, with a person you can trust. If you don’t want to talk about your abuse or trauma experiences, you may not be ready to do, and it might be preferable not to.
Disclosing your experiences can help rob the trauma or abuse of its power. Even though you can’t completely erase the effects, they can be reduced, and coped with in a healthier way.