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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Healing from the Trauma of Sexual Assault

Mar 31, 2022 09:00AM ● By Stephanie Harris
One night, while at a party, visions were blurred, and it was unclear what was happening. Then morning arrived, with a flood of overwhelming feelings of confusion, and aloneness. First thing in site were clothes not intact. Scared and unsure what to do, the tears began flowing like a rushing stream. All that could be done was to attempt to cover-up with the ripped clothing and run home, hoping not to be seen.
   
This nightmare is, for too many, a reality. “What she was wearing” is irrelevant. Everyone has a right to wear what they choose. It is others who need to control their urges. No one ever expects this to happen to them.
   
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), “Every 68 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 25 out of every 1,000 perpetrators end up in prison.”
   
In Bessel Van Der Kolk’s, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Treatment of Trauma, he explores the biological effects of traumatic stress on the body, including how trauma rewires the brain. As Van Der Kolk describes, “Trauma is not the story of something that happened back then. It’s the current imprint of that pain, horror and fear living inside people.” 
   
Holistic Psychotherapist Elizabeth Eiten shares, “Trauma affects us psychologically, physically, emotionally, behaviorally, cognitively, relationally and spiritually. With that said, psychotherapy needs to be holistic and incorporate mind-body therapies.” Healing from trauma is possible.
   
Some of the modern therapies found helpful in healing include: cognitive behavioral therapy; narrative therapy; eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR); mindfulness techniques such as meditation or journaling. Acupuncture, yoga, somatic healing and massage are also great alternatives to traditional trauma therapy.
   
There is no right or wrong modality. It is the survivor’s journey to follow the path they are drawn to. For a survivor on this journey, it will be helpful to work with people who are trauma informed and/or trained in sexual assault or domestic violence. They have chosen to do the appropriate training and specialize in healing trauma. Not everyone is trained in this realm.
   
Sexual assault can happen to anyone. The main reason it happens is for power and control. Reach out, and begin the conversations. Remove the stigma. We never know who may be holding on to a secret that needs to be released. Remember this: the greatest gift we can offer a survivor is saying, “I believe you,” and, “How can I support you?”
   
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and traditionally the last week of April is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This month, show support for survivors by wearing teal.

Stephanie Harris is an Empowerment Coach at Courage 2b Me. Her passion and purpose is to help women transition through life after a major life change, empowered and grounded. Connect at [email protected].

For confidential help and resources from RAINN, call 800-656-HOPE or visit Rainn.org for an online chat option. To find additional, local resources, visit nsvrc.org/find-help.

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