“I discovered my voice. I do have power. I can stand up for myself . . .I can tell my story without shame . . . This group has taught me that it is ok to ask for help .. . After all, when a room full of victims becomes survivors; empowerment, growth and change happen and dreams become realities. Lives not only taken back but born anew. Knowing we are not on this healing pathway alone gives us strength and courage to face each new day”
Sexual abuse and assault are such catastrophic experiences that they can produce post-traumatic symptoms in anyone, regardless of their background.
IT IS NORMAL to have intrusive thoughts and feelings of numbness, rage, and grief, or other symptoms following a traumatic event. It would be unusual not to at least have some “psychological aftershock;” these symptoms may appear during, soon, or long after the sexual assault/abuse.
THESE SYMPTOMS ARE DEFINITELY RESPONSIVE TO TREATMENT. Some survivors have significant symptoms years or even decades after the assault/abuse, but this is usually when they have not had effective counseling assistance.
It is not unusual to fear that one will lose control of some emotions (crying, fear, rage, etc.) after the trauma. This does not mean that you are going crazy, but only that you have some important things to work through about the trauma.
While in counseling, the symptoms may temporarily get worse before they get better. This is because the survivor is focusing on the trauma and the symptoms, trying to express and understand the feelings and emotions that are occurring. This is a necessary step in working through the assault/abuse.
Some symptoms may not go away completely or forever, but at the very least, they can be controlled and reduced in severity and frequency. After all, there are a number of experiences in your life, both negative and positive, that you will never completely forget. Memories or feelings about such experiences may suddenly appear for no apparent reason, or may be triggered by something directly connected or something that seems to have no connection to the past traumatic experience. However, on a closer look, usually it is possible to find a connection between something in your current life and the appearance of memories and feelings from the past. In addition, the victim learns more about what happened, what is happening now, and what s/he can do about it.
At some point in the recovery process, the sexual assault/abuse victim begins to feel less like a victim and more like a survivor. The turning point for each person is different but involves the recognition that there have been some positive benefits derived from having faced and worked through difficult feelings and issues.
This information can be triggering to some people. If you begin feeling stressed and overwhelmed, feel free to call the Support line for free confidential support from a trained and experienced Advocate. 1-800-871-7741