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The Survivor's Guide to Sex: How to Have an Empowered Sex Life After Child Sexual Abuse
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This book offers an affirming, sex-positive approach to recovery from incest and rape.

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Relapse Prevention Worksheet


Recovering from abuse takes time. It is important to remember that recovery doesn’t occur perfectly for anyone and there will be relapses during the recovery process. This is normal and it is to be expected. A Relapse Prevention Plan is something that may be helpful to you in preventing a relapse.

Warning Signs of a Pending Relapse

* Stopping medications on one's own or against the advice of medical professionals 
* Hanging around our abusers or subjecting ourself to known triggers 
* Isolating - not attending therapy - not using the telephone for support 
* Failing to follow ones treatment plan - quitting therapy - skipping doctors appointments 
* Relationship difficulties - ongoing serious conflicts - a spouse/s.o. who still abuses you 
* Setting unrealistic goals - perfectionism - being too hard on ourselves 
* Changes in eating and sleeping patterns, personal hygiene, or energy levels 
* Feeling overwhelmed - confused - useless - stressed out 
* Constant boredom - irritability - lack of routine and structure in life 
* Sudden changes in psychiatric symptoms 
* Dwelling on resentments and past hurts - anger - unresolved conflicts 
* Avoidance - refusing to deal with personal issues and other problems of daily living 
* Engaging in obsessive behaviors: workaholism, gambling, sexual excess, acting out 
* Major life changes - loss - grief - trauma - painful emotions - winning the lottery 
* Ignoring relapse warning signs and triggers 
* Dealing with the underlying issues in therapy 
* Becoming overwhelmed by feelings and emotions 
* Death of a family member, friend, etc. 
* Marital and family problems 
* Feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, anger, and abandonment. 
* People's reactions to changes you are making in your life 
An essential part of relapse prevention is what you will do when you see any of these 
signs. At the time, you may be overwhelmed by any of the above and end up resorting to 
old methods of coping. Normally the most important part is to tell someone, either your 
therapist, or a close friend, or a sponsor if you have one or need one. The rest is 
pretty individualized based on what you want. Sometimes it's useful to write down the 
signs of the relapse because at the point where someone is having symptoms they are 
already starting to use denial, or they just aren't seeing it. Or they might rationalize it, 
like why it's ok that I hurt myself, or didn't go to therapy, or saw my boyfriend who 
used to beat me up. I think also acknowledging that it's happening without getting into 
the self blame, like oh I failed again. 
Create your own list of things that you feel may cause you to have a relapse:
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
List each situation that may cause you to relapse on the left and on the right, list a 
healthier way of dealing/coping with it. (You may list more than one way to cope for each 
situation.)
         SITUATION                                             HEALTHY COPING
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
Many abuse survivors are very hard on themselves. Putting themselves down, calling themselves 
names, convincing themselves they are a failure, etc., are all things that can lead to relapses. 
The section below will be a difficult one to complete, but it is important to try and change 
negative attitudes you have about yourself into positive ones.
On the left side, list the negative dialogue you use on yourself or hear. On the right side, 
challenge those same negative statements and replace them with positive ones. When you find 
yourself overwhelmed with negative thoughts, take out this list and practice telling yourself 
the positive ones. Even if at first you do not believe them, the more positive messages you 
give yourself, the more likely you are to start believing them. 
         NEGATIVE                                              POSITIVE
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
__________________________________               ___________________________________
Whenever you find yourself making negative comments to yourself, be sure to pull out this 
list, write down the negative statement and turn it into a positive one. Try to do it 
each time you catch yourself being hard on yourself so that you do not spend the whole day, 
week, etc. with this negative thought going through your head. You do not deserve to put 
yourself down, you are a wonderful person and it is important that you learn how to love 
and respect yourself. By being able to take the negative statement and turn it into a 
positive one, you will be taking the necessary steps towards learning to love and accept 
yourself for who you are. The more positive messages you give yourself, the better you 
will start to feel about yourself.
In times of crisis, it can be difficult to remember healthy ways of coping. Many people in 
crisis do resort to familiar ways of coping. Making a plan ahead of time can be helpful. 
Make a list of 10 healthy ways you can cope. After the list is completed, keep it in a place 
where it can be accessed when needed. (i.e. refrigerator, cupboard, etc.)
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
It is also important to reach out during times of crisis, when you are feeling scared, 
alone, out of control, etc. Talking about your feelings can help to relieve some of the 
anxiety that you may be having and can help to prevent a relapse. Reaching out also 
helps to remind you that you are not alone. Below write down names and numbers of people 
you can reach out to. You may find it difficult to reach out, but the more you do it, 
the easier it will become. The person that you call will be glad that you did, will 
welcome the call, and be there for you the best way that they can.
NAME                                                           PHONE NUMBER
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
__________________________________                 ___________________________________
During the recovery process it is not always possible to avoid relapses. Many people tend 
to be very hard on themselves if they do have a relapse. It's important to remember 
that no one can recover perfectly. If you have a bad day, you can forgive yourself, put it 
behind you, and continue to move forward in your recovery. A good saying to remember is, 
"Yesterday is but a dream. Tomorrow a vision of hope. Look to this day for it is life." 
We cannot change yesterday so it is important not to dwell on what happened yesterday, 
we cannot spend time worrying about relapsing in the future, because we cannot predict 
the future. All any of us have is today and we must live for today. Do the best that 
you can and be proud of yourself for having the courage to continue to heal. It takes 
a lot of strength and courage to do that and that is something you can be 
proud of. 
If you do experience a relapse, it is sometimes helpful to try and figure out why it 
happened. Below is a list of things that you can do if you experience a relapse. 
* Sit down and try to figure out how you were feeling before the relapse occurred. 
* Write about how you felt before, during and after. 
* Make a plan of how you will handle the situation, feelings, emotions, etc. when it happens 
  again, but in a healthier way. 
* Call someone and talk about what happened and how you feel. (i.e. friend, therapist, 
  family member, etc.) 
* Remind yourself that just because you had a relapse, does not mean that you have failed. 
  It only means that there are feelings inside that need to be dealt with. 
* Be gentle with yourself and do something nice for you. (i.e. soak in hot bath, take a 
  nice walk, read a book, etc.) 
* Remember that there is no shame in being an abuse survivor, there is no shame in having a 
  relapse and it is okay to reach out and talk about it 
* Below make a list of things that you can do to help yourself get past the feelings you may 
  experience after having a relapse:
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________ 
Remember that you are not alone and even if you do have a relapse, you will get through 
it. Recovery takes time, but if you want to recover, you can and will. I hope that this 
relapse prevention plan will be a helpful tool for you in your recovery process. 
Adapted From Mirror-Mirror Eating Disorder Website


 

Disclaimer:   I am not a health care professional. I am an abuse survivor. The resources on this site are for information and education only. Information on this website is meant to support not replace the advice of a licensed health care or mental health care professional. Please consult your own physician for health care advice.

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