SEXUAL ASSAULT & TRAUMA
Thrive Psychology Group - Los Angeles
Sexual assault has become an epidemic problem, or rather, a problem brought to light from the shadows in recent years. From the #metoo movement, supreme court hearings, corporate boardrooms and high profile media cases, we are now reminded regularly that women are often placed in precarious, and traumatic situations from a young age and that these situations keep happening well into their professional and adult lives. Stats show that 1 in 5 women will be assaulted in their lifetime and 1 in 3 will experience sexual harassment at work or school. Sexual assault and sexual harassment are extremely stressful, terrifying events that can severely disrupt a woman’s life and mental wellbeing for for years.
DR. RUAN DISCUSSES THREE MYTHS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT?
The impact of sexual assault is deep and scarring. Survivors may no longer feel safe, may lose self-esteem, feel powerless, and lose the ability to trust others or develop intimacy. The reaction of family and friends (victim blame, minimizing, and rejection) can leave lasting emotional scars and trust issues. The decision to report or not, the response of school, work, police, and medical professionals can also be highly traumatizing. A sexual assault survivor can experience a range of responses. Many women we see are very successful in many areas of their lives but carry shame, anxiety, and distrust within them. Some common responses we see are repeated memories of the assault that can’t be controlled; flashbacks, or a feeling like she are reliving the moment; nightmares; and difficulty sleeping. Some survivors bury the memory so deep they only remember in glimpses of the memory when it is triggered, but feel the consequences in their daily lives. Other symptoms include headaches, anxiety, PTSD, stress, fear, depression, eating disorders, self injury or even suicide attempts. Sexual assault survivors may experience feelings of being “on edge,” have trouble concentrating, feel the need to continually watch over their shoulder, or become easily startled. Many feel less interested in things that they used to enjoy; and may feel emotionally numb. Some may withdraw from social interaction or settings.
HOW CAN THRIVE HELP YOU HEAL FROM SEXUAL TRAUMA?
Many women haven’t told anyone about their assault before coming to our office. They have had no safe place to process their range of emotions and have needed to push down their memories and feelings over the years in order to survive and function at school, work and life. By keeping these memories in the dark, many survivors adopt a sense of shame and distain for who they were when assaulted. The image they have the woman who was assaulted doesn’t match the strong competent woman they are in their daily lives. They may feel their story isn’t as valid as others to share, or that if their friends and family find out they will be looked upon with pity or doubt. Added to these emotions, current cultural trend to “victim-blame” anyone who comes forward publicly makes it nearly impossible to talk about the topic in a public or semi public setting. At Thrive, we give you the space and the tools to take back your life story, to turn shame into self-love and confidence, and to heal your relationship with yourself and others. Your assault doesn’t have define you or limit you. We can help you move on from reliving the past and help your reclaim your life.