Boundaries are at the heart of living a healthy life. Without them, every day is filled with a myriad of subjective choices that are far too often hindered by emotions, opinions, relationships and need for acceptance, love, security and money. In addition, survivors often make choices through the lens of their past instead of the vision of their future.
Setting boundaries is a process of determining what is healthy behavior and what is unhealthy behavior for both you and those who you choose to spend time with. When you establish boundaries based on your intention for your life, they provide a mechanism for objective decision making AND they allow you to create the future you always dreamed of, one choice at a time.
Because so many boundaries and core values were broken as part of your childhood sexual abuse, re-establishing boundaries is essential to creating health and balance in every aspect of your life including:
- Physical Health
- Mental Health
- Emotional Health
- Spiritual Health
- Relational Health
- Behavioral Health
- Sexual Health
- Moral Health
Healthy boundaries provide both the basis for living in harmony with the world around you and for reclaiming your sense of self and self-respect that are so often lost during and after abuse.
While it's important to set boundaries, it's just as important to establish consequences ahead of time which removes the need for decisions about repercussions after the fact when emotions are likely to influence the decision. You may want to have very strong consequences for others who cross critical boundaries such as lying, pushing sexual boundaries, or using demeaning language about you - perhaps even a zero tolerance rule resulting in terminating the relationship.
On the other hand, we encourage you to have patience with yourself in establishing and holding yourself accountable for new boundaries. It's a journey, not an event and if you allow yourself to go to a place of condemnation because you were unable to stick to a boundary, that can be detrimental to your health and your overall progress. Instead, allow yourself to feel a healthy sense of conviction knowing that your behavior did not support the intentions for your life and that you'll start fresh the next day without carrying the burden of shame or guilt. Remember, each day you get to make new choices and with each new choice, you have the opportunity to move closer to the future you envision.