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949-454-0996

©2019 BY DR. CLARE ALBRIGHT, PSY.D., CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST - CA  LICENSE PSY11660

Rape &

Sexual Assault

Surviving Rape and Sexual Assault

 

If you’ve recently suffered a rape or sexual assault, you may be scared and wondering what to do next. The rush of feelings may be preventing you from getting help. The first thing you must do is report it! You may be scared of the consequences. You may think it’s your fault. You may think it’s hopeless. Those emotions can only be worked through if you report it and get help.

You may be confused about what rape or sexual assault. Rape is being forced or coerced to have sexual intercourse against your will. Sexual assault includes any touching of private areas, attempted rape, and fondling. If you’re unsure, asking law enforcement, your doctor, or a mental health professional can help you. But is important to seek help as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

More than 60% of rapes go unreported, and someone who has raped or assaulted someone in the past is very likely to rape someone again. By reporting as soon as you can, you are helping yourself and preventing many other people from getting hurt. Even if you did not report soon after it happened, it is never too late to get help. Do not be afraid, you have the power to control your future.

Victims Witness Program

You may be scared that you cannot get the support you need. Maybe you think you can’t afford it. The Victim Witness Program has been helping victims find help for over 40 years. If you have reported your traumatic incident, they may be able to fund your long-term therapy. They also may be able to help with the court process, emergency assistance, and restraining orders. Along with your counselor, they can help you start the healing process so you can reclaim your life.

Reporting

Whether the incident happened just hours ago or many years ago, you may be unsure of how to report the experience. The process will be difficult, but you will have support. Reporting is the first step to healing and justice. You can use the following resources to report the assault:

  • Law Enforcement: law enforcement is probably the best place you can report your incident. It does not matter how long it has been since your assault, you can file a police report. Even if the experience occurred on a college campus, you should still report it to the police. The university cannot pursue any criminal consequences. Many police stations have a person specializing in sexual assault. You will find someone there who can listen to your experience and get you further help.

  • Callisto: Callisto is a relatively new App, but it helps people report sexual assault. It is only available in a few colleges and some professional businesses, so if your college or job doesn’t have it, suggest they look into it. Callisto will timestamp and seal any report of rape or sexual assault you enter. Therefore, even if you don’t have the strength or courage to report right away, Callisto can help you preserve any evidence you do have.

  • National Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE (4673)): when you call this hotline, they will connect you with a resource to help you in your area. They will give you basic information about medical needs you may have, the laws of your area, they’ll listen and support you, and give you the resources you need to find healing. It is completely confidential.

  • Hospital: If you have been assaulted within the last 72 hours, you can go to any hospital for a rape test and medical examination. It is possible you have physical injuries that need treatment. In addition, the doctor may be able to provide and preserve valuable evidence in case you want to press charges.

Long Term Effects

If you’ve suffered a traumatic event, it may cause you to have any of the following symptoms, for which you can seek professional help.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and avoiding people and places that remind you of the event.

  • Depression: overwhelming sadness, lack of interest in things you love, inability to get out of bed.

  • Flashbacks: memories of the traumatic event as though it was reoccurring.

  • Borderline personality disorder: rapid, unstable mood swings.

  • Sleep disorders: difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up.

  • Eating disorders: problems with over eating, under eating, or purging your food.

  • Dissociative identity disorder: memory lapses or variations, multiple personalities.

  • Guilt: overwhelming or unshakable feelings of being to blame for your rape or assault.

  • Distrust of others: the feeling that you can’t trust anyone, others are “out to get you”, or inability to talk about personal issues.

  • Anger: anger directed towards your attacker, those in power who could have prevented it, yourself, or other people, places, and objects that may remind you of your traumatic experience.

  • Feelings of personal powerlessness: feelings of being robbed of the control you have over your body.

  • Substance abuse: using alcohol or drugs in a way that makes normal functioning difficult.
    While you may not suffer many of these problems, it is very likely that your incident will or has caused additional problems. They are not your fault. You are not to blame. You may not have even realized the issues are connected. Seeking help and establishing trust with a dedicated mental health professional will not only begin healing for your rape incident, but will also help you conquer these other issues.


Treatment


You may be worried, concerned, or scared about how your therapist will treat you. Will it be hard? Yes, it will be emotionally difficult. But in the long term it will be worth it, and you will have support the whole time. Here are some ways your therapist may focus on helping you heal.

  • Education: helps to realize you are not alone and that your responses to the traumatic experience are normal.

  • Skill building: you will learn skills to stop damaging thoughts and self-guided talking.

  • Application: you may learn how to courageously engage in things that scare you, avoid self-criticism, and reward yourself for successes.

  • Prolonged exposure therapy: prolonged exposure therapy may be very difficult, but it will help you move past your traumatic memories of the incident. Through this method you will be asked to relive the memories of the experience and confront situations in real life that may remind you of the assault. This may be very scary, but through courage and support, it is very effective at taking back control of your memories.

  • Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR): a relatively new but effective method of natural healing, EMDR targets bad memories much like prolonged exposure. This can be painful, but in the long term will give you the power you need to live a happier life.
    Outlook
    Your traumatic experience may always be a part of you. It is probably impossible to remove those memories. But with bravery, support, hard work, and a therapist that is dedicated to helping you heal, you can move on. You can reclaim your life. You can have control again. There are many resources out there to help you, don’t be afraid to seek them out.

Call Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D. CA Psychologist License PSY11660 at (949) 454-0996 at http://DrCAlbright.com