Happy May also known as Mental Health Awareness Month! This month we will be speaking about both sexual abuse and mental health while framing the conversation to support victim to seek help for their healing process. On May 2, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a guest speaker at AFAB on the behalf of BARCC to share my child sexual abuse story. The experience was humbling and empowering at the same time. (Click HERE to watch my reaction to Public Speaking for BARCC at AFAB). add to events link also edit the video) I plan to do more speaking engagements in the summer about sexual violence and the importance of having these taboo constructive conversations. Because sexual violence is such a taboo topic, I will do my best to encourage a healthy and supportive dialogue to ultimately motivate the general public to speak about sexual violence. Not in a flash or in an overview i.e. rape is bad so don't rape. But in a realistic and educational manner that allows thoughts to be shared and myths to be shattered. “Women with severe mental health illness are up to five times more likely than the general population to be victims of sexual assault and two to three times more likely to suffer domestic violence, reveals new research led by UCL and King's College London funded by the Medical research Council and the Big Lottery” (Click HERE for article). With this statistic there is a clear connection between sexual assault and mental illness.
Many people assume sexual assault is like a cut and that a band aid and time will heal all. For someone who fell off a bike this philosophy makes sense but regarding sexual assault this philosophy is too simplistic and over their heads. The mind is a sensitive and yet complex organ. The brain is always soaking in new information and computing that information to what it means to the human experience. When someone is raped it is not just a violation of the body but it is a violation of the brain. Physical violence impacts the brain just like any new information pertaining to the human experience except it's distressing and conflicting to what the brain once believed. Who would have assumed going to grandpa's house would include molestation? The information given prior to the molestation to the child was grandparents are loving, protective, and nice. To be suddenly shown something different without tools to fight, deal or combat the situation distresses the brain into self protection mode that may include cognitive dissonance, anxiety, hysteria, depression, multi-personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and a host of other mental illnesses.
The body can always heal if the cut isn't too deep and the body is still alive, but the brain, it doesn't work the same. The brain can learn to process new information or learn to cope with information that distresses it but it can never fully heal to the point before the new information was given to it. Hence the saying that goes, “You can't un-know something once you know it." Bringing this conversation back to rape, yes you can learn ways to cope with the experience of surviving rape i.e. learning your triggers, going to counseling, joining a survivor's group, seeking legal justice etc. You will learn to overcome your trauma and release Trauma's Stockholm (which means to live your life through the experience of your initial trauma i.e. someone who has been molested so he chooses to avoid intimacy for fear someone will violate his body again). Your life will start to feel normal again with these coping tools and you will find joy in the things that you once separated from, but I would be lying to you if I said sexual trauma doesn't leave an impact on you and that impact doesn't forever shape your human experience. With that being said, rape does not define you, but it does change you.
“The study, published in psychological Medicine, found that 40% of women surveyed with severe mental illness had suffered rape or attempted rape in adulthood, of whom 53% had attempted suicide as a result. In the general population, 7% of women had of whom 3% had attempted suicide. 12% of men with severe mental illness had been seriously sexually assaulted, compared with 0.5% of the general population” (Click HERE for article). This is why I stress getting counseling if need be. Talking to an expert about your experience with sexual violence who is sworn to secrecy by the government policy called HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and has a genuine care for your well-being is absolutely necessary. Rape is not a childhood scar like a fall from a bike and should not be treated as such because trauma has a strange way of popping up in your life if you do not take the initiative of dealing with it. And I get it, it completely sucks because you didn't ask to be date raped at 40. You didn't ask to be molested at 8. You didn't ask to be sexually assaulted at 17. And here you are a survivor of one of the most heinous crimes left to deal with it on your own but the wonderful thing about these horrible acts is that you are not alone.
As RAINN has stated, “1 in 6 girls will experience an attempted or full rape.” Organizations like BARCC (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center) and AFAB (The Association of Haitian Women In Boston) make it their mission to help rape victims heal. So you are NOT alone. But these organizations with a network of resources and allies cannot help you if you don't seek out help. And trust me, help comes in many forms. You may not be a speaker but there are artistic healing circles like painting for rape victims. Last November 19, I had an event called Paint Your Truth (read about it HERE) for sexual assault survivors where we just painted our feelings about what our truth meant to us. We didn't do too much talking or revealing of our story. The event was powerful yet humbling and each attendee took their painting home (I'm thinking of doing the same type of event this year as well so definitely stay tuned!). There are groups were you can remain anonymous and share whatever you feel comfortable regarding your sexual assault experience and everyone in the room has also experienced sexual assault on some level too. There are therapeutic retreats where people from therapeutic backgrounds put together events for victims of molestation and other sexual violence to get away and heal as one. There are panel discussions and lectures on healing after sexual violence. As you can see there are a variety of resources that are available for victims of sexual violence. It only takes you to be proactive to advocate for yourself to get the healing you need.
On this platform we speak about sexual assault, mental health and healing. If at any other time you felt isolated and thought you couldn't speak about your truth know that May is a month dedicated to you and your truth, believe that! If you need to speak to someone who knows sexual violence and mental health disorders contact me for a private one on one conversation with me. I answer questions, give advise and provide coaching. Want to get started now? Click the picture above or HERE.
If you Missed Last Week's Blog: Why Erykah Badu Supporting Kodak Black Is W R O N G Click HERE.
Have you checked out the book trailer for MEMOIRS OF A FORGOTTEN CHILD coming this summer in hard copy? Today we're at part 30. I discuss my move from one city to the next and Miss Isles's postcard she sent via mail to keep me updated with the class. Click HERE to watch.
Follow: vieis_me Instagram page for snippets from Tuesday's livestreams at 8pm eastern on Facebook Page Author Vie Ciné where we discuss whatever you want to. No subject is off topic from sexual trauma, mental health, celebrities, politics etc.
Miss the last livestream click HERE to watch snippets.
Follow: MEMOIRSOFAFORGOTTENCHILD Instagram page for exclusive reads from and updates for MEMOIRS OF A FORGOTTEN CHILD.
I'll leave you with a personal quote of mine, "It's imperative that these acts of wrongdoings do not continue unchecked for it is our children who pay the highest cost." - Vie Ciné
As Iyanla Vanzant says, "I am not my sister's keep, I am my sister."
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