A Therapist’s Thoughts on the #MeToo Movement: 5 Things to Consider
Week after week we’ve heard more on the news about individuals who have been sexually harassed, assaulted and raped. Week after week I’ve sat in my office and heard the victims. Then, I’ve heard questions such as, “Is the problem really this widespread?” What does this mean? After mulling over these conversations for a few weeks, I feel it is time to share a few of my reflections with you.
Sexual Violence is very, very common
The problem IS widespread. I won’t even bother to post estimates about how common sexual harassment, assault and rape are, because every time I hear an estimate I immediately think about how under-reported these issues are. My mind drifts to everyone I’ve known who has been assaulted or raped and never reported it. Yes, I assure you, the problem is common.
Power Differentials make it hard for victims to report
It’s hard for victims to stand up to their assailants, because there is almost always an element of power involved. Victims feel like the perpetrator has power over them in some way. In the news we’ve heard about perpetrators of sexual violence that have power due to money or having the ability to make or break someone’s career. Other times the power differential could be a little more subtle like the perpetrator has a sterling reputation and the victim feels certain nobody would believe her. Maybe the perpetrator could influence others to not associate with the victim. Perhaps the perpetrator has a strength and size advantage.
Sexual Assault can cause PTSD
Being sexually harassed, assaulted or raped often impacts a person’s functioning and sometimes results in debilitating post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The victims coming forward publicly are incredibly brave and strong. What you’re not hearing about, though, are the young girls who start failing classes because they are anxious each time they’re on their college campuses, or the woman who can barely make herself get out of bed at night, or the person who no longer wants any intimate relationships. As someone who bears witness to these stories over and over, I assure you that these actions that perpetrators may barely remember can have a devastating impact on the victim.
Survivors often needs help, but they can and do move forward
Help is available and healing is possible. The amazing part of this story is that therapy does work and people do get better. It’s hard. It takes dedication. You don’t heal overnight. But healing can happen. In fact, many victims even experience post-traumatic growth where they come out stronger in some area of their life. You may find new opportunities, become closer to someone who supported you through your recovery, discover your own strength, develop a stronger spiritual connection, or learn to appreciate something you took for granted before. A caring, knowledgeable trauma therapist can help guide you through the healing process and you can get unstuck.
It’s time for widespread change
We need to see change at the society level. My hope is that all the current discussion will do more than raise awareness. I hope it will bring about widespread change. Companies need to enforce strict policies and take quick, immediate action when violations are reported. Respect should become the norm. Victims should feel empowered to seek help. Power of the accused (through money, gender identity, position, influence, size, or reputation) should not impact how people view the victim.
Counseling Help for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Rape
If you are look for help after rape or sexual assault, the good news is that healing possible. You don’t have to be miserable or stay stuck. What happened to you doesn’t have to define you. There are several types of effective trauma treatments that research has shown can help you find significant healing in only a few months. If you are experiencing PTSD symptoms, it may help to know what you can expect from trauma treatment.
Trauma treatment may sound scary and you may wonder if you really need counseling to help you move forward. Surely you can just pretend the sexual assault never happened? Chances are, you’ve already tried shoving down the memories of the assault and ignoring anything that reminds you of the rape. Unfortunately, avoidance plays a key role in the development of PTSD. You likely need the help of counseling to truly recover after any type of sexual violence. We are here and ready to help.
If you are ready to begin the healing process and live in the Columbia, MO area, please contact Aspire Counseling today. Several of our caring therapists specialize in trauma treatment. You don’t have to stay stuck. You can move beyond the sexual assault and it doesn’t have to take forever. Please, call us today at 573-328-2288 or send us a message. We want to help you move forward. Healing starts here.
About the Author
Jessica is the founder of Aspire Counseling in Columbia, MO. She specializes in treating people who feel stuck in the past and held back by the negative experiences they’ve endured. She specializes in treating survivors of sexual assault and rape who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and believes in the healing power of counseling. If you live in the Columbia, MO area and would like to talk to someone about how counseling might help you move beyond surviving and toward thriving, please contact Aspire Counseling by e-mail or by calling 573-328-2288. You don’t have to stay stuck. You don’t have to let what happened to you define your life. Call today and let us help you move from victim to survivor and toward a fulfilling life. Healing starts here.