The healing process of recovering from a sexual assault takes time. “Sexual harassment and assault can be a humiliating experience to recount privately, let alone publicly,” says psychotherapist Beverly Engel L.M.F.T. Beyond the physical injuries, the victim has to endure the painful undertaking of psychological trauma. Flashbacks and unpleasant memories haunt the victim at any moment after that, inflicting emotions of fear, brokenness, and misery. Anxiety attack becomes an everyday experience, which makes it challenging for the victim to trust his or her surroundings.
However, some victims fight the agonizing aftermath of sexual trauma. At the end of the seemingly unending darkness, they come out triumphant: victims become survivors. The process of healing culminates in the sense of regaining the confidence and rebuilding the worth of the survivor. According to psychologist Nathan Heflick, “Women who place a higher value on their own appearance are more likely to report that they would provide emotional support for a rape victim.”
Movement Against Violence
#MeToo is a social media movement that went viral in 2017 and provided a platform for rape survivors to voice their stories of horrendous sexual abuse and empowering recovery. Founded in 2006, this movement helps survivors of sexual violence find healing and peace.
The campaign notably funds various forms of activities and assistance which are beneficial to the path towards the healing of the survivor. Moreover, they gather and build a community of advocates geared towards eradicating sexual violence and abuse.
In The Life Of A Rape Victim
Inspired by the movement is Anne Lauren, a woman warrior who battled incest sexual violence committed by her father. She authored the book “Blue&Lavender.” The story tells her horrifying experience and recovery from the abusive incident. “Whether to speak up about offensive behavior is a personal decision that should not be made impulsively or lightly; just as there are consequences for remaining silent, there can be consequences for anyone who doesn’t take the time or spend the energy to investigate their rights, plan their response, and document what happens.” This is according to clinical/forensic psychologist Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D.
She grew up believing that she was a worthless human being, deserving of all the violent episodes that happened to her. When she reached the phase of womanhood, she slowly became more aware of her worth as a person. She began to regain her sense of control and acknowledge her strengths and capabilities.
However, Anne’s recollection of her abusive past continued to plague her present, making her feel depressed and anxious. For the past years, she dealt with her struggles and pain alone. Trying to mend from the brokenness, she drowned herself in psychotherapy treatments, medications, spiritual meditations, and exercise routines to support her natural healing. But trying to recover from the hurtful experience and reclaim her identity only made her tiresome and ragged. It is when she stumbled upon the #MeToo movement.
Gently opening up her pain to the world brought light to the acceptance of her experiences in life. Resonating with her sentiments and struggles, the survivor community shared her sorrows, and Anne was able to connect with them. In it, she found mentors who guided her in the transition from being a survivor to a thriver. These mentors walked her through the path towards a new and better life. She came upon conferences and retreats specifically to support women in recovery from all forms of individual battles, such as addiction, eating disorders, and sexual abuse.
Anne realized that recovery happens not in an isolated environment. Instead, it occurs in a safe place, together with people who understand and share your struggles with you. Uplifting one another, they came off robust and thriving together.