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Guest post by Dr. Amy Menna courtesy of Gift From Within
RECOVERING FROM RAPE
After a year, Hannah’s mother suggested she go to counseling for her depression. Hannah agreed and proceeded to find a counselor and tell her about her anxiety and depression. She did not mention the rape. Hannah did not talk about the rape. After all, the counselor never asked.
Hannah spent a few sessions getting to know the counselor. It was going relatively well but Hannah continued to have flashbacks. Finally, Hannah took the initiative and told her counselor of her symptoms and that she had been raped. From this, the counselor explained how her present symptoms could be related to the rape. Hannah talked a great deal about the rape. Shortly there after they started talking about it, Hannah’s flashbacks started to go away.
Healing starts with talking about the assault. Without disclosing their struggles, survivors limit the amount of help they can receive. Talking about the experience is the recommendation of virtually every survivor. Without shedding light on their experience, many survivors feel as if they remain isolated in the darkness of their pain.
The suggestions below are not linear. They are about validating the experience of rape and working through the symptoms associated with it. When Hannah began talking about her experience, her counselor validated the fact that it was not her fault.
These are just a few steps toward recovery. Undoubtedly there will be other steps survivors will uncover as they continue on the journey. It is important that a survivor is issued unconditional positive regard and that she is gentle with herself in recovery. Remember it is progress, not perfection.
It may be an extremely difficult path; one survivor’s may not want to take alone. It is recommended that survivors have assistance in their recovery. It can be friends, family, a trained counselor, or any other person whom the survivor deems to be safe, trustworthy, and understanding. Although survivors may feel a great deal of isolation, it is important to know that they are not alone. Remember that this is a process where the survivor needs support and guidance.
Take these experiences as suggestions instead of demands set in stone. This may be a messy process, survivors may feel better at times, and worse at other times. This may be an introduction to recovery or enhancing the progress of recovery survivors have achieved in the past.
Amy Menna has a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and Certified Addictions Professional. She has over 10 years of experience treating survivors of sexual assault and has published on the topic of Rape Trauma Syndrome, resiliency, and childhood sexual abuse. She is in private practice and lives in Tampa, Florida. She is available by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gift From Within, (www.giftfromwithin.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to those who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those at risk for PTSD, and those who care for traumatized individuals.
The opinions in this post are solely those of the author. To contribute to ‘Professional Perspective’ contact Michele.
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