Sexual Assault Counseling
Are the Memories of Sexual Assault Impacting Every Part Of Your Life?
Are you struggling to cope with distress following a disempowering sexual experience? Do you continually return to the incident(s), asking yourself how it happened or why it happened and unable to find an end to the ongoing loop of disturbing thoughts? Perhaps troublesome feelings associated with the assault are becoming overwhelming, and you’re having difficulty relaxing, focusing, trusting others and fostering meaningful relationships. You may also be having trouble sleeping through the night or are experiencing flashbacks. To cope with the assault, you may be using alcohol or drugs in excess. Are you having difficulty with or abstaining completely from sex or engaging in self-harming behaviors? As stirring thoughts and emotions become more intense, you may become angry, hypervigilant and afraid. Do you wish you could find relief, feel comfortable in your own body and return to the life you had before you were assaulted?
Sexual assault can completely disrupt your ability to function, maintain relationships and feel safe and stable. Rape survivors often struggle with symptoms related to anxiety, depression and PTSD, which include: insomnia, nightmares, agitation, numbness, lack of motivation and feeling disconnected with others and the world around you. These uncomfortable sensations may be negatively impacting your work as well as your relationships, interrupting your ability to handle daily responsibilities, let alone cope with distress or engage with your passions. You may be engaging in risky behavior just to numb the pain and withholding your true feelings and history from those you care about, which only makes you feel more isolated and alone.
Many Victims Of Sexual Assault Are Struggling
If you have experienced an unwanted sexual encounter, you are not alone. According to Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. One in five women and one in 20 men are sexually assaulted during their lifetime. 94 percent of women who have been raped experience PTSD symptoms during the two weeks following the attack. Nine months later, 30 percent continue to suffer. 63 percent of women who suffered childhood sexual abuse report rape or attempted rape later on in life. It’s estimated that only 30 percent of assault cases are reported to authorities.
More often than not, the perpetrator is known to the victim. It’s estimated that 80 percent are known to the survivor. Living in a society where people question the credibility of sexual assault victims makes it difficult to want to share your experiences. In addition, fear of retaliation, the judgment of others, or heavy feelings of shame and guilt may explain why many people stay quiet and internalize their distress. But you don’t need to. There are several resources available to get help. Sexual assault therapy can clarify how trauma has impacted your thoughts, emotions and behaviors and provide effective coping strategies that allow you to lead a healthier, more fulfilled life.
Sexual Assault Therapy Can Help You Heal
Counseling for rape victims and sexual assault survivors can effectively help you process pain and distress associated with the trauma. Just being able to talk about what happened in a safe, compassionate environment is often the first step to healing. With the guidance of an experienced therapist, you can experience relief from physical discomforts and learn the coping skills needed to improve your day-to-day experience.
During our sessions together, I can help you gain an understanding of how the assault has influenced your relationships, decision-making and physical and mental health. If there are triggers that lead to unwanted thoughts, emotions and behaviors, you can learn to recognize them, then de-escalate and even prevent harmful outbursts. We can also redefine and honor a new set of boundaries that feel comfortable for you. The healthy boundaries and communication that we practice in the therapy room can serve as a model for your relationships outside of session, offering you the strategies you need to foster fulfilling, trusting bonds with those around you.
I am trained in a variety of different empirically driven techniques including EMDR, that allow you to establish a better relationship with yourself, your body and others. At a pace that feels safe and comfortable for you, we can work toward restoring your system to a state that feels grounded, resilient and able to move forward. As we work together, you can develop tools that alleviate a myriad of symptoms—from depression and numbing out all the way to hypervigilance, irritability, fear and panic.
I’ve been working with people recovering from sexual assault my entire career. With the right guidance and support, it’s possible to feel more connected to your body and the world around you and lead a more fulfilling, healthy and balanced life.
You may have additional questions or concerns about how to deal with sexual assault…
Does working with a rape counselor mean I have to revisit the event?
I know that talking about sexual assault can be triggering and disempowering. That is why there are a variety of techniques available that allow us to move through the trauma without explicitly referencing specifics. One of the key elements of this work is moving at a pace that is comfortable for you. I don’t want to overwhelm your system or cause you increased distress.
The main goal of this work is to provide you with effective strategies that allow you to experience more ease and harmony in your life. Throughout our work, you will learn self-regulating techniques. When you are feeling agitated, you can draw on these skills to bring yourself back to a relaxing baseline. Our work focuses on empowering you to have more control over unwanted physical and emotional sensations.
I don’t think sexual assault therapy will help me.
Seeking out help to address and process the pain of sexual assault shows tremendous bravery and strength. The combination of that strength, your willingness to engage in the process and my guidance can lead to effective and sustainable solutions. Together, we can carefully address and bring compassion and awareness to the variety of ways in which sexual assault has impacted your life. I’ve seen many rape survivors and victims of sexual assault establish better relationships with their bodies and world around them and go on to live more fulfilling lives.
I’m worried that counseling for rape victims means a lifetime of therapy.
While some components of this work are complicated and require more attention, time and effort, it’s possible to gain relief from physical symptoms in a relatively short amount of time. And, a lifetime diagnosis or long-term therapy are absolutely not the end goal. Your independence and empowerment are the overall goal. I want to help you learn to navigate these distressing memories, thoughts, emotions and body sensations effectively so that you can move forward into the life you want.
Healing From Trauma Is Possible
If you’re living in Denver, CO and have questions about how to cope with sexual assault, please call 720-608-0174 for a free 30-minute phone consultation. I am happy to discuss any questions you have about my practice or how sexual assault counseling can help you heal.