Recovering from a Sexual Assault—Counselors and Therapists in Alexandria, VA
The #metoo movement that began on social media is reaching far beyond an online platform. Many people, in the process, learned that they are not the only ones who experienced a sexual assault or sexual harassment. High-profile people in the movement, like Rose McGowan or Terry Crews, have spoken about the pain sexual violence can cause and about how healing is possible but difficult. The threat of sexual violence and the promise of healing, however, are not just for celebrities. Anyone who has lived through a sexual assault needs to hear the healing truth that… The assault was not your fault… you can talk about what happened to you… you can heal. Many survivors of rape and other forms of sexual assault have found that one important part of healing was going to therapy. Many mental health professionals understand the nature of sexual trauma and the wounds it can cause. Many also understand what it takes to heal from sexual violence. If you have lived through any kind of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexual violence, consider reach out and going to therapy.
“I can be changed by what happens to me,
but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
— Maya Angelou
The therapists at Thriveworks Alexandria have worked with a number of people who have lived through sexual violence. Our mental health professionals understand that sexual assault brings many forms of harm into an individual’s life, and we are committing to giving our clients the holistic care they deserve.
Sexual Violence: A Difficult Reality
It is not pleasant to think about the reality of sexual violence, but it is important to do so. When people understand the different forms sexual violence can take and how frequently it may occur, then this knowledge may help fight the shame that sexual violence can ignite within victims. Sexual assault is a broad term that could mean an individual has experienced:
- Rape is when one person forces or coerces (either physically or emotionally) another person to perform a sexual act that involves penetration. Forced oral sex is a form of rape.
- Sexual Harassment includes undesired sexual advances, unwelcomed solicitations for sexual favors, or talk that has inappropriate sexual overtones.
- Child Sexual Abuse is sexual contact or acts of any kind between a child and an adult. Because children cannot consent to sex, any sexual interactions between an adult and child are abusive.
- Sexual Assault involves actions like unwelcomed sexual touching, groping, or fondling. It also can be attempted rape.
- Incest occurs when one family member sexually abuses, rapes, or sexually assaults another.
- Intimacy Partner Sexual Violence can occur when a spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend perpetrates sexual assault, sexual harassment, and/or rape.
The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) has compiled some powerful but sobering statistics about sexual assault in the US:
- Where do most sexual assaults happen?
- 55 percent occur at or near the victim’s home.
- 12 percent occur at or near a relative’s home.
- 12 percent of sexual assault victims are working when it occurs.
- 7 percent are at school.
- Who is at risk?
- People ages 18-36 experience more sexual harassment or assault than other age groups.
- 1 in 6 women are the victims of an attempted or completed rape.
- 10 percent of rape victims are male.
- Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted.
The Wounds of Sexual Assault
When people live through sexual violence, they often are traumatized. Each individual reacts to trauma in unique ways, but there are patterns. Trauma can leave physical, emotional, and psychological wounds. Of course, the physical harm is most visible, but the wounds that are not seen are just as real. Here is how victims of sexual violence may experience side-effects of what they have endured:
- Physical Wounds. Victims can sustain a number of injuries during a sexual assault. They often experience broken bones, cuts, bruises, and more. In the wake of the assault, a victim may discover that the attack gave them a sexually transmitted disease (STD). These are bacterial or viral infections that, like their name suggests, are transmitted through sexual contact. A sexual assault may also impregnate a victim.
- Emotional and Psychological Wounds. Not all wounds from sexual violence are visible. Many, in fact, are not seen, but they are painful nonetheless. Victims of sexual violence frequently report flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They also experience high rates of depression and other mental health challenges such as eating or sleeping disorders. They may cope with the pain through suicide ideation or other forms of self-harm.
Help at Thriveworks Alexandria for Sexual Assault Victims
When anyone experiences a sexual assault, they are also often assaulted with shame. They may feel responsible—as if they could have prevented it or stopped it. The truth is, sexual assault in any and every form is never the victim’s fault. Ever. Victims deserve healing and acceptance, and they often find these at counseling. If you have lived through sexual violence, consider reaching out to Thriveworks Alexandria. Our counselors are ready to help.
When you call our office, a scheduling specialist will answer and help you make an appointment. You will not be put on a waitlist, but you may have your first appointment within 24 hours. We also offer evening and weekend sessions, and we accept many difference insurance plans. You are not alone. Call today.