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Trauma

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The festive season or holiday can be a stressful time for many people and for survivors of sexual assault, it can feel particularly challenging. All of us have our unique set of strategies – usually on a spectrum between healthy and less healthy – which help us to cope with difficult times. This is a time when it might be helpful consciously to consider what existing coping strategies are going to serve you well, what you might adopt to get you through and what feels possible to you. Here are some thoughts of what might help: 1.   Being realistic: The myth of the perfect holiday always disappoints one way or another, there really is no such thing as the perfect holiday, unless you choose to see and experience it from that perspective. Setting realistic expectations of how things might be will protect you from feelings of disappointment and a sense of…

“Stealthing” refers to the act of deliberately removing a condom during sex without your partner’s knowledge or consent. It’s illegal in many countries, and is a form of sexual assault. This catchy phrase doesn’t actually mean it’s a new trend but coins a new term for a kind of sexual assault. Women are being warned against this horrifying practice of men secretly removing their condom during sex without consent. The disturbing sex trend was examined by Alexandra Brodsky for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law who said the practice is “not new” but is rarely spoken about. Even more troubling is the online community Brodsky uncovered, where men encourage other men to “stealth” their partners. These perpetrators — both gay and straight — believe it’s a man’s right to “spread one’s seed.” Stealthing leaves a victim vulnerable to pregnancy or STIs, and can cause emotional, physical and financial harm. What is more worrying is…

The subject of rape is a very sensitive one, both for the victim and the culprit. We read about different experiences the victims go through. Worse, our society has over time learned to tilt the table in favor of the culprit, while further victimizing the victim. Although there have been numerous instances where people have used the false accusation of rape as a weapon, causing havoc in the lives of many, tarnishing their reputation and damaging the credibility of those who are actual victims of rape. Findings from a National Survey carried out in 2014 on Violence Against Children in Nigeria confirmed one in four girls reported experiencing sexual violence in childhood with approximately 70% reporting more than one incident of sexual violence. In the same study, it was found that 24.8% of female victims, between 18 to 24 years old,  experienced sexual abuse prior to age 18 of which…

Navigating romantic relationships has proven to be challenging. In our desire to make a true, heart felt connection we fail to build a solid foundation for our relationships, which is intimacy. Intimalogy is the study of intimacy and its complexity. In this talk, Intimacy expert, Dr. Kat Smith, shares her story of triumph over trauma. After childhood abuse and date rape, she was able to use her challenging life experiences to open up to the transformational power of love. With today’s challenges of sexual assault and domestic abuse, Dr. Kat uses her past as inspiration and enlightenment and helps to motivate and re-educate men and women on all the components of intimacy, emotional development and the differences between intimacy and sex. She teaches couples how to create the deep intimate connections they desperately desire. Intimalogist, Dr. Kat Smith is America’s Intimacy Expert and formerly a co-host of an ABCradio syndicated…

Sexual response or orgasm during sexual assault is the best-kept and most deeply shameful secret of many victims and survivors. Unfortunately, some people believe that if a victim experiences arousal while being raped, that person must have enjoyed being raped. Some others believe that arousal is synonymous with consent. However, consent is not given by a person’s body parts, it is verbally given by a sober, informed, non-coerced partner. And since vaginas and penises can’t speak, it’s safe to say that they cannot give consent. If you are a survivor, and you experienced pleasure, no matter how little, it’s important that you understand that sexual response in sexual assault is extremely common, it is also well-documented and nothing for you to be ashamed of. Below is some information from researchers and professionals about sexual arousal and sexual assault: Rape and Sexual Arousal: Rape is not always violent. Some survivors surrender…

“A while ago?” her friend asked. “Yes, he raped me a while ago. Exactly nine months and two days ago. What’s that? Nine months or nine minutes. It’s the same thing. And it is in the past, you say? Then why is it still happening, every day, every time I close my eyes? Every time I hear someone behind me, and I don’t know who it is; or someone touches me, and I didn’t see it coming? How is it that I get an almost irresistible urge to punch anyone who happens to touch me unexpectedly? Tell me, sis, how do I forgive, let alone forget, something that is still happening, that keeps happening over and over? How? How do I do that?”  – A Survivor. People who are traumatized, like sexual assault survivors, have good reason to feel that they should be hyperaware of possible danger. Hypervigilance is an…

“I am a more sensitive person, a more compassionate and sympathetic doctor because of my rape experience in med school than I would have ever been without it. But I would give up all the growth in a second if I could have gone through med school without the experience. If I could choose, I would forego all of the spiritual growth and depth which has come my way because of my experiences, and be what I was eleven years ago, an ordinary student, studying hard to be a medical doctor. But I cannot choose.” – A Survivor In the face of a traumatic event, individuals may experience, along with the inherent negative responses, a number of positive changes, which reveal posttraumatic growth. The idea that, at least for some people, an encounter with trauma, which may have elements of great suffering and loss, can lead to highly positive changes…

I was 19, just walking home from a friend’s, it was only 11 o’clock at night. It happened so suddenly, I didn’t fight, I just froze. For a long time, I did not know if it was ‘really’ rape, I never said no, I never said anything. It was surreal, it almost felt like I was watching it happening to someone else from above. For months I had severe nightmares, everything played over and over in my mind, “I should have done something,” “I should have fought,” it would not stop. I couldn’t talk about it to most people. I felt so numb and empty, like something had been taken away from me but at the same time it did not seem real. I couldn’t do anything; my world came to a halt. I felt so disgusted and ashamed of myself. And it was not just me who was affected,…

As you recover from rape and childhood trauma, you will begin to get back in touch with your authentic self, untainted from the trauma’s effects.  It has been said that most survivors grew up too fast. Their vulnerable child-selves got lost in the need to protect and deaden themselves. Reclaiming the inner child is part of the healing process. Often the inner child holds information and feelings for the adult. Some of these feelings are painful; others are actually fun. The child holds the playfulness and innocence the adult has had to bury. Indeed, although trauma from sexual violence does incalculable harm, survivors can start to become the person they have always wanted to be, it will take a lot of work but healing, and eventually thriving, is possible. It is most likely that it’ll force you to develop strengths which you may well now be in a position to…