With the recent confirmation hearings of Justice Kavanaugh and the allegations of sexual assault from 4 women (currently), people who have survived the trauma of rape or other sexual assault may find themselves triggered by how President Trump and some Senators have dismissed the importance of these allegations.
I know my reaction has been one of disbelief that others could so easily dismiss what was a life changing experience for these women. Sexual assault changes your sense of safety and trust… among other things. A client with whom I met this week talked about how the Senators’ denial mirrored the process she went through as she was bringing charges against her rapist. She felt like it was all coming up again.
If you’ve survived sexual assault, you may be wondering if this feeling ever goes away. Healing often happens in layers. You may have already worked on this/these issues and thought you were done.
Symptoms of Being Triggered (PTSD from Sexual Assault)
Typical symptoms may include:
- Recurrent, intrusive thoughts
- Recurring nightmares of the event
- Avoiding places and/or activities that remind you of the event
- Feeling detached from others; sometimes an emotional and/or physical numbness
- Irritability and/or angry outbursts; feeling edgy
- Hypervigilance (constantly scanning your environment for threats)
- Problems concentrating
- Exaggerated startle response
- Not enjoying things you previously enjoyed
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Racing heartbeat
- Anxiety; shame
- Muscle tension
You may experience one of these symptoms or a mixture of symptoms.
What Can You Do?
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is seek and accept support from someone/people who feel safe to you. That can be family, friends, a professional trained in supporting people who have survived trauma, and/or a support group.
Some other specific things you can do:
- If helpful and needed, put yourself on a media diet (limit the amount of news you read & hear).
- Healthy eating
- Being in the moment (part of mindfulness). Knowing and telling yourself that, right now, you are okay and safe
- Deep belly breathing
If this is not enough and you need professional support, please call me or another therapist trained in working with people who have survived trauma.
Call me at (303) 444-2003 to schedule an appointment.
Will This Ever Go Away?
Very possibly! One of the therapy techniques I use is called Brainspotting. Brainspotting is a non-verbal technique based in the fact that your mind, body and spirit (if spirit is something for you) knows what it needs to do to heal. Brainspotting helps you access where the trauma is located in your brain and helps your mind reprocess the trauma so that you no longer have an “emotional build-up” around the memory. I can help you reduce or remove the triggers that are keeping you stuck.
Locally (Boulder area): MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault); 303.443.7300 or Moving to end sexual Assault
Nationally: National Sexual Assault Hotline; Call 1-800-656-4673 (available 24 hours everyday)
Getting Your Life Back after the Trauma of Rape: A Story of Resilience and Healing