December 4, 2019
Let’s spare a thought and some of that anger for the many girls and women whose rapes we never hear about or reported. So many survivors believe that they are alone on this journey. Their story may be theirs…but the journey belongs to everyone.
The truth about Rape
Sexual Assault is the most under-reported crime. Survivors of sexual assault are often met with intrusive questions and accusations.The effects of rape reach far beyond the physical injuries incurred. Rape survivors experience common symptoms of flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Lack of services and under reporting leaves the survivor alone in this journey.
Rape Trauma Syndrome
RTS describes a process that rape survivors go through in response to the fear experienced during a sexual assault. Although each survivor has their own experience, there are common characteristics some survivors possess.
This immediate response is described as the Acute Phase or the world turning upside down phase.
The Acute Phase can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after an assault. It is a response to a complete disruption of one’s life and the horrific experience of being sexually assaulted. Some survivors may cry, others may laugh, and still others may be completely silent.
After the Acute Phase, comes the Reorganization Phase where the survivor attempts to reorganize her life. This phase invites a myriad of emotions such as fear, anxiety, denial, and most of all the loss of security.
The shattering of security as well as trust is inherent in sexual assault. The feeling of being unsafe looms over the survivor causing a heightened state of anxiety, difficulty with intimate relationships, and hypervigilence such as constantly checking one’s surroundings.
Long term reactions to sexual assault may also include the inability to find peace within this world. Sexual assault can change the individual forever as well as the world as they know it.
The end result is a constant state of turmoil. At times, the survivor may not even recognize what is happening within. Sexual assault causes the body to be an unfriendly environment leading the survivor to at times feel dirty and ashamed. These feelings cause the individual to disconnect from their body entirely.
Treatment of Rape
Part of the healing process is to uncover one’s true belief system.Rape is commeted not for sexual release or gratification, but out of lust for subjugation and domination.
It is a powerful word for a power hungry act. It breeds fear and in many cases, it breeds silence. It is important that this silence be broken, and survivors be heard. By doing so, we break the grasp that rape has upon so many. The aftermath can be immense.
The journey to heal may be terrifying; the steps, long and tedious. By building a bridge of awareness and empowerment, woman and men who have experienced rape can be healed and heard.
It is amazing what survivors can do under nurturing conditions. It is our responsibility to cultivate the innate wisdom that so many survivors have. It is equally important that we develop our own. Rape is not an issue solely for survivors. It is an issue for everyone.
RECOVERING FROM RAPE
Tell your story.Healing starts with talking about the assault. Without disclosing their struggles, survivors limit the amount of help they can receive. . “I was raped” may be the most difficult sentence they can utter. By voicing and validating their experience, they can open up to what is ahead.
It may be an extremely difficult path; one survivor’s may not want to take alone. It is recommended that survivors have assistance in their recovery. It can be friends, family, a trained counselor, or any other person whom the survivor deems to be safe, trustworthy, and understanding.
Although survivors may feel a great deal of isolation, it is important to know that they are not alone. Remember that this is a process where the survivor needs support and guidance.
Identify strengths to build on: It important to know what the survivor is doing right or she will focus on what she’s doing wrong.
Identify ways to self-sooth. Anxiety and depression may be side effects of working through the ramifications of rape. Part of the foundation of recovery is to be able to soothe yourself when you are feeling anxious or just “out of sorts”.
Educate yourself on the topic of rape and related issues. Knowledge is power. It allows survivors to identify what happened and how it is affecting them.
Assign responsibility. Rape is the responsibility of the assailant. It doesn’t matter what the survivor was doing, wearing, drinking or what has transpired in the past. Rape happens as a result of the behavior of the assailant. It is NEVER the survivor’s fault. Being angry with themselves is a difficult place to be.
Identify triggers. There are triggers that may remind survivors of the rape and creates feelings as if it is happening all over again. Getting triggered is typically a result of intrusive symptoms.
These are just a few steps toward recovery. Undoubtedly there will be other steps survivors will uncover as they continue on the journey. It is important that a survivor is issued unconditional positive regard and that she is gentle with herself in recovery.
Stop teaching your daughter how not to get raped and start teaching your son’s how NOT TO RAPE.
Disclaimer : Arthi Bala is a licened psychotherapist, sexual health & intimacy coach. She work’s with the victims of sexual assualt/violence,rape as well as with the incarcerated rapists giving evaluations for the court on criminal matters that include sexual crime. [email protected]