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Sexual assault and the opening of old wounds, woman sitting on floor upset

Sexual Assault And The Opening Of Old Wounds

Over the past few years, the #metoo movement has pushed sexual assault cases into the national spotlight causing both more accountability and a much-needed public discussion of the issue. However, in the process, victims are faced with traumatic reminders when they see news programs or read articles about assault cases. A lot of times this causes a victim to relive the assault inciting further trauma or reigniting unresolved trauma from the past. This was evidenced when the national sexual assault hotline, also known as RAINN, experienced a 201% increase in calls during the supreme court hearing for Judge Kavanaugh in the fall of 2018. For RAINN, which stands for Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, it was the busiest day in the history of the organization.  

RAINN president Scott Berkowitz explained that…

History shows us that when high-profile allegations such as these are in the news it often causes others to reach out too. This story has clearly resonated with survivors, and has led thousands to reach out for help for the first time...

For victims of sexual assault, seeing assault cases in the news can be overwhelming and bring back vivid memories of a past assault, causing victims to relive moments that they may have thought they were at peace with. For some, this can be hard to cope with. For others, it can be empowering, giving them the courage to speak out and lend their voice to the national discussion. In either case, it is important to understand how you or someone you love can be effected. 

But what do you do when these events cause assault-related PTSD triggers, and you feel yourself starting to shut down?

For those who feel like an old wound has been opened, there is help. Abuse victims or anyone struggling with news about sexual violence can find help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE or visiting their website. You can also access the many recovery resources from RAINN here.

If you are looking for tips on what to say to a loved one who is a survivor of sexual assault, you can start with these:

Let them know it is not their fault. Many victims blame themselves and may have done so for years. Some may know it wasn’t their fault but either way, you reaffirming this message can mean a lot.

Tell them you believe them. Victims have gone through a terrible experience and then to worry whether they will be believed is another layer of pain they have to deal with. At this point asking specific questions may not be beneficial. Instead, the person who’s opening up to you may need to feel heard and validated.

Assure them that you are there for them. Letting the survivor know you will listen and support them whenever they would like to talk can be incredibly powerful. You can also help them to find professional service providers who can help them on their road to recovery.

For those in the greater Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and Chanhassen areas, Choices Psychotherapy is here to help you on your path to healing from sexual assault. Give us a call today for an appointment or with any questions.

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About Choices Psychotherapy

Choice is the foundation for a change. Choice speaks to the reality that there is not one right answer for all.  At Choices Psychotherapy, we are committed to empowering clients and their families to identify options while assisting in creating a personal roadmap toward health and recovery.

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