Here is a shocking statistic: Every 98 seconds someone in America is sexually assaulted. Another shocker: 99 percent of the perpetrators of sexual violence will walk free.* Sexual assault is any kind of sexual contact that takes place without the consent of the person being contacted. This means everything from unwanted touching to rape and attempted rape.
Clearly, the problem of sexual violence should NOT be swept under the rug. But women are reluctant to come forward, as exemplified by the recent news this week.
So what can you do about it if you’ve experienced sexual assault?
Understand that you’ve suffered a traumatic experience. I have a friend who survived an attempted rape, but since her would-be rapist didn’t succeed, she didn’t think she should feel traumatized. But she did. Even improper touching can leave you feeling that way. And most women who have been raped suffer PTSD for at least a couple weeks. The good news is that most people recover naturally from PTSD, which may dissipate with time.
Understand that unfinished psychological business will eventually resurface. You may not want to talk about your painful experience. Most women don’t. And you may not feel you need to get professional psychological help. After all, you survived, and maybe you feel you’ve gotten past it. Especially if some time has elapsed, you may not want to dredge up emotional distress that you feel you’ve put to rest. You feel you’re resilient since you’re feeling a lot better, at least temporarily. As we said, PTSD often dissipates with time. But still, it’s not a good idea to avoid the issue. Avoidance strategy seldom works for long, and the resulting stress creates more difficulties later in your life. By not dealing with your trauma, you essentially prolong or put off your suffering until later.
Understand when to seek treatment. If you’ve experienced sexual assault, now is the time to get help. Sooner is better than later. Those who seek treatment early require shorter treatment time and a faster recovery. Those who do not seek treatment right away are more likely to suffer down the line from anxiety, depression, and intimacy issues. They’re also more likely to self-soothe with alcohol or drugs, which cause additional problems. If you’ve put off getting help for a long time, know that it’s still better late than never.
Understand how effective treatment can help you. A qualified, professional counselor can guide you to work through your traumatic experience so you can move on in your life. You’ll learn how to access your inner strength as well as access other resources that can support you. You’ll learn how to find your authentic self and process your memories. You’ll learn how to challenge your post-trauma thinking so you can reconnect with the life you want to live and restore your healthy way of thinking. When you can understand how your experience affected you, you can begin to build your confidence and regain your quality of life.
*According to RAINN.org
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact