In the United States, a person is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Because of the high volume of assaults we see as a nation every day, April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This month focuses not only on increasing the public’s awareness about sexual assaults but providing education to prevent future assaults and information on where to seek resources as well.
Recent research published in the peer-reviewed journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse shows that one month after a sexual assault, 75% of victims met the criteria for post-traumatic stress (PTSD). The only light in this disturbing statistic is that PTSD now has evidenced-based treatments that are working.
Identifying PTSD in Sexual Assault Victims
First things first. Trauma and PTSD are not the same. It is possible as a sexual assault victim to have trauma without being diagnosed with PTSD. Trauma is defined as a past experience that is difficult to get over. PTSD however, is a DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) diagnosis that is generally broken into 5 categories. Let’s take a deeper look.
Fortunately, there are evidenced-based treatments that have proven to lead to remission for both victims of PTSD and trauma. Three of the most recognized treatments include:
Not everyone responds to the same treatment, so it is important to find what works best for the individual. Treatment methods vary in the amount of effort required by the individual but within 6-12 sessions the person should begin to see progress. Like many things that require treatment, the sooner better.
Too often victims of sexual assault associate the difficulty with healing as a weakness. But that’s simply not the case. Sexual assault victims are survivors who should be very proud of the work they’ve done to recover from their assault. Seeking help with healing is not a weakness, it shows strength.
Journey to Recovery
Recovering from a traumatic event like sexual assault is a journey. Whether the individual is receiving support from a professional counselor or navigating this trauma alone, below are five simple things that can be done on the journey to recovery.
Whether you are a victim yourself or know someone who has been sexually assaulted, know you’re not alone. There is help for those who want it. To make an appointment with a Mindfully counselor, visit www.mindfully.com. If you’re not ready for professional support but need someone to talk to, the Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 by phone at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or by chat.
Dana works with a variety of modalities, including Cognitive Processing Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Dana also treats a variety of mental health and substance use disorder issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, somatoform, and dual diagnoses disorders. Dana works with clients to help them identify goals for themselves and achieve those goals in therapy.