#metoo. These are two little words that mean so much. On social media, many people have begun to put words to unspeakable pain. In the process, many are learning that they are not alone. Sexual assault is a far too common part of many people’s experiences. Healing from sexual violence is a difficult process, but it is possible. Men and women alike can point to examples of people who are survivors—people like Terry Crews, Rose McGowan, Rachael Denhollander, and more. Time and again, survivors of sexual assault point to foundational truths for healing… truths like… you are not alone… it was not your fault… it is ok to talk about what happened… there is help. One tool for healing that many acknowledge is the importance of going to therapy. Often, mental health professionals who are trained in sexual trauma can help victims heal. If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, consider reaching out for help. Consider going to therapy for sexual assault victims.
“I can be changed by what happens to me,
but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
— Maya Angelou
Thriveworks Manassas has worked with many survivors of sexual assault. Our therapists offer holistic care that supports clients as they heal—as they refused to be reduced by what happened to them.
Statistics about Sexual Violence
As difficult as it is to think about sexual violence, it is important to know what it is and how often it can occur. Acknowledging its reality can help victims of sexual assault fight the shame it ignites within them. Sexual assault is an overarching term that may include rape, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, sexual assault, incest, intimate partner sexual violence, and more. Definitions of each can vary, but here is a brief description of what each type of sexual violence involves.
- Rape is forcing another person to perform a sex act on oneself or performing an unwanted sex act on another person. Rape includes penetration of any kind as well as oral sex.
- Sexual Harassment is any unwelcomed requests for sexual favors, sexual advances, or verbal harassment that has sexual overtones.
- Child Sexual Abuse is any sexual act or contact between an adult and a child. Children cannot consent so all sexual activity with a child is abuse.
- Sexual Assault includes attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching, groping, or fondling.
- Incest is sexual assault or abuse perpetrated by a family member.
- Intimacy Partner Sexual Violence is sexual assault or abuse perpetrated by a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse.
Here are sobering but powerful facts about sexual violence in the United States according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN):
- 55 percent of sexual assaults occur at or near the victim’s home.
- Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted.
- 12 percent occur at or near a relative’s home.
- 1 in 6 women are the victims of an attempted or completed rape.
- People ages 18-36 are most at risk for sexual harassment or assault.
- 10 percent of rape victims are male.
- 12 percent of sexual assault victims are working when it occurs.
- 7 percent are at school.
Effects of Sexual Assault
Sexual violence is a form of trauma, and everyone responds to trauma in a unique way. Here are a few ways you may or may not be feeling the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of the assault.
- Physical Effects. During a sexual violence, victims are often injured in a variety of ways. They may suffer cuts, bruises, broken bones, and more. After a sexual assault, a victim may develop a sexually transmitted disease (STD) from the attack. STDs are viral or bacterial infections that are spread through sexual contact. Victims may also have become pregnant during the attack.
- Emotional and Psychological Effects. Trauma takes a toll physically, but it is also a psychological and emotional wound. It is not uncommon for victims to have flashbacks of the assault, experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and/or develop depression. Victims may have difficulty sleeping or eating. They turn to self-harm or even experience suicide ideation.
Healing from Sexual Assault—It Is Not Your Fault
When people are attacked sexually, they often experience great shame. They may want to pretend the violence never occurred. They may not seek treatment because they cannot bear to acknowledge what truly happened to them. These are normal responses, but it is of utmost importance that people seek help after experiencing sexual violence. It is important to reiterate that what happened to you is not your fault. You did not ask for it or provoke it. You deserve healing. The path toward healing the physical, emotional, and psychological wounds of sexual violence is unique for each person. There is no timeline. If you are ready to talk to a therapist, here are a few tips for choosing one.
- Ask about their experience helping people who have been sexually assaulted. It is important that they understand the dynamics of sexual violence and different approaches to healing.
- Feeling out their personality. It is important that you feel comfortable and safe in therapy. Trust your intuition. If you do not feel comfortable, it is ok to move onto another counselor.
- Ask about the different types of therapy they offer. Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TICBT) and Trauma-Informed Dialectical Behavior Therapy are two examples of therapeutic strategies that mental health professionals may take. It is okay to ask about a therapist’s methodologies.
Appointments at Thriveworks Manassas for Sexual Assault Victims
If you are ready to meet with a therapist, know that Thriveworks Manassas has appointments for survivors of sexual violence. When you contact our office, you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. We also offer evening and weekend sessions, and we accept many different insurance plans. You are not alone. Call today.