April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In this fifteenth blog we are discussing the side effects of sexual assault. The top three side effects of sexual assault are depression, flashbacks and post traumatic stress disorder. After rape the body is in a whirlwind of turmoil. Often times the brain and body are conflicted and trying to overcome the trauma and violation from someone (most often than not) they know. According to RAAIN, “Of sexual abuse cases reported to law enforcement, 93% of juvenile victims knew the perpetrator.” Click HERE to read more statistics. The mind is still grappling with the fact that her body was taken advantage of and she didn’t have control over their autonomy. There’s a battle between retracing her footsteps and trying to figure out why, specifically what did she do to warrant his actions and finding blame within herself. Then the element of her body comes into play, like why she couldn’t over throw the rapist and if she orgasmed during the rape (which is naturally what happens when the body is aroused regardless of consent) it reinforces the guilt/shame she already has because of the rape.
The brain has a remarkable way of trying to preserve itself from trauma by disassociating from the cause of the trauma but the opposite can occur as well. Flashbacks are caused by a triggering moments that brings back memories of traumatic events. An unwarranted touch on a survivor of molestation by a stranger can trigger a thought from the molestation and cause her to yell no with a distressing face. The person who touched her might have not attended to trigger her or attempt to molest her but the act of touch caused her to yell.
Sexual assault can bring a mental breakdown on the magnitude of depression or post traumatic stress disorder. Depression isa common and serious mental disorder that negatively affects how a person feels, the way a person thinks and how a person acts. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities. It leads to a different emotional and physical issues and can decrease a person’s desire to complete tasks at work and at home. Post traumatic stress disorder PTSD is a mental disorder that develops in certain people who have experienced an unexpected shocking, scary, or dangerous event.
Traumatic events causes fear triggering split-second changes in the body to that is meant to help defend itself against danger or to avoid it. The instinctual “fight-or-flight” response is a normal reaction meant to protect people from harm. Most people will have varies reactions to trauma, and will recover from the trauma gradually. Those who aren’t able to recover and have continual side effects due to the initial trauma will be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD can be triggered by stressed or frightened as if they were back to when the trauma took place even when they are not in danger.
The only way to overcome these side effects from sexual assault is to seek a mental health professional. A therapist who specialists in trauma will be far more understanding and supportive than your auntie, cousin, or sister etc. As well intended as the people you know and love are, even if they too have gone through similar experiences, they are NOT in the position to give you psychological care. What many people do not know is that you can select your preference when choosing a provider. If you feel more comfortable with a woman therapist, make that request. If you feel more comfortable with a Black woman therapist, make that request. If you feel more comfortable with a Black woman therapist that speaks your native language, PLEASE, request it. Your insurance can make all your requests happen. Although, you couldn’t control what happened to you in the past, you can control your healing now. Be unapologetic and selfish in the process to become whole again. You owe it to yourself. Click HERE to find Black Women Therapists across the country.
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 here is that platform to Speak Up. Speak Out. Speak Truth. 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: You've Abused A Child (At Least Once). Click HERE to read.
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