Talking about sexual assault and rape is important. It is something that I have learned needs to be talked about more. There needs to be more awareness. When people disclose they need to be met with understanding. More than that though, people need to understand the ramifications and long term effects. It does get better, it changes, and there is growth.
4 years after the fact and I still have times of getting triggered. The last time that happened was Thursday night in class. The professor announced that we were going to be watching Les Miserables. Instantly I had a racing heart, the room seemed to be closing in, and I had a twisted feeling in my stomach. It became hard to breathe and my head began to race and play snippets of when I was raped. That is the hard thing, something small and simple can send me back 4 years ago.
Now the difference is that I can calm down a lot faster than I used to be able to. Rather than it taking a whole night, or even a few days to calm down, I could calm down and regain composure in an hour. I have found things that help and work, essential oils, taking a hot bath, and curling up in my bed. It has gotten easier to remind my brain that things are safe, that nothing is happening now. But the thing is those memories, they remain. My brain remembers, my body remembers, and it can be brought up by a simple reminder. By the mentioning of a movie. A movie that I watched right before everything happened.
People who have been through sexual assault or rape have those reminders. They may get smaller, but they are still there. This impact goes further than that individual. It impacts family, friends, and loved ones. My family and friends have been with me and may hear about the difficulties. Or get a message from in the midst of the panic. They often are a big part of me becoming grounded and being reminded that I am safe in this moment. They have seen and gone along this journey with me. They have cried with and for me, they have encouraged and been strong for me. They were impacted too.
This is why it is important to me to write these blogs, to have conversations, to attend rallies, and to share my story. I don’t want anyone to have to go through this journey alone. I want to do my part to help there be conversation and awareness within this difficult subject. If you have experienced this I’m sorry, find someone safe to talk to, someone who will believe you and who can care for you. If someone confides in you listen, don’t blame, simply be there and be loving. If you have supported someone keep at it. We all have a part to play. What is your part this month in Sexual Assault Awareness Month?