In light of the Surviving R. Kelly documentary, sexual abuse has become the topic of discussion in the media, break rooms, hair salons, and on social media. In the documentary, celebrities, employees, sexual abuse survivors and their parents shared their encounters with Mr. Kelly and the horrific behavior that he displayed. Prior to the documentary, the MeeToo movement began making waves with women from all over the world using #meetoo to share their stories of sexual assault. Celebrities also utilized the hashtag, coming forward against their attackers that were considered untouchable higher-ups. The attention from the media that surrounded the allegations brought numerous entertainment industry heavyweights, politicians, and corporate executives from their picture-perfect pedestals and into clear view of who they truly are. Some of the attackers were even brought to justice.
The evolution of the media’s comfortability with discussing sexual assault is a monumental step in the right direction but how can we add the survivor’s mental health healing to the conversation and subtract the victim shaming?
Before the words ‘sexual assault’ became a phrase, the act was considered a natural male behavior that women tried to avoid. Since the beginning of time, women have been subjected to sexual violence and harassment from cultural and traditional practices. To this day, women still suffer from this treatment in many areas of the world and even endure human trafficking, forced labor, and sex slavery in our own backyards. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the feminist movement emerged when women spoke out against these issues and the phrase ‘sexual harassment’ was coined.
Throughout the history of sexual abuse against women (especially against women of color), we have been taught to “sweep it under the rug” and move on. We have been coached out of addressing and pressing charges against our attackers, out of fear of being blamed and having our career and lifestyle being turned upside down.
In 2019, women are still conditioned by society to believe that it was her fault or that it could’ve been prevented if she would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. Due to the injustices in many rape and other sexual assault cases, these heinous acts against women have remained normalized. This is the very reason why 63% of sexual assaults are not reported. So, if women don’t feel safe and supported enough to report their sexual assault and seek justice, how can we feel secure enough to seek mental health assistance and solace?
Confiding in someone about a personal and traumatic experience can understandably make one feel apprehensive. However, if society will not place our mental health as a priority, then it is up to us to take charge and push it to the forefront of the conversation.
Self-care isn’t just about floral scented baths, masks and mani pedi, it’s also about caring for your emotional and mental well-being. According to NSVRC, 81% of female sexual assault victims suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Seeking mental health assistance is vital in the next step to healing and is the ultimate act of self-care that a survivor could ever do for themselves.
There are many organizations that support survivors in their recovery. The nation’s leading organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is an anti-sexual assault non-profit that walks you through the step by step process to healing after being sexually assaulted, whether it be from childhood or recent. RAINN not only provides programs that help survivors with their mental health and protecting themselves in the future, but they also assist with bringing their attackers to justice. I encourage survivors to no longer suffer in silence and to seek emotional and mental help to recover. Here are 3 reasons to reach out to RAINN to recover from sexual assault trauma and get the relief that you deserve.
1. Reach Out When You’re Ready
RAINN understands that not every sexual assault survivor will be ready to open up and seek help right away. That is why they provide a 24/7 phone and chat hotline with trained support specialists. Day or night, you have access to sexual assault support, information, advice, or if you just need a referral. Your safety is first priority to RAINN and that is why they will not ask you for your personal information or record your call and/ or chat log. It is only if you disclose that you are under 18 or pose as a threat to yourself that they will report the information that you provided them to the authorities to get you the help that you need.
2. Mental and Emotional Self-Care
RAINN provides helpful programs, tips and downloadable guides to assist you with your recovery at all stages of your healing on their website. RAINN believes that self-care is about taking steps to feel healthy and comfortable, whether it happened recently or years ago, self-care can help you cope with the short- and long-term effects of a trauma like sexual assault.
Whether you need help with planning an exit strategy from your abuser, protecting yourself from future attacks, or cautious online dating, RAINN has you covered with safety and self-care outlines to assist you in your mental and emotional care.
3. Find The Therapist for You
Finding the right therapist is crucial in getting the healing that you need. RAINN understands how important this step is and that is why they will hold your hand through the selection process. They provide a series of questions to ask yourself to determine the type of therapy you need and what to look for in a therapist. RAINN considers budget, personality and where you are in your recovery process to decide the type of therapist that will be suitable for you. If you find that the help that you’re receiving isn’t for you, they will assist you with changing therapists. The website provides numerous resources to reach out to when you are ready to take that step in your healing process.
RAINN is the beautiful reminder that you are not alone in your journey of recovery. When you are ready, I encourage you to seek help and get the healing that you deserve.
Blogger, Crys Watson of The Stylish Activist