What Helps Improve Mental Health After Sexual Assault?
Updated: May 5
Every 73 seconds, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, and the effects of such trauma can be long-lasting. Mental health can plummet after going through such an awful event. It’s important to get help and process the trauma so that you can heal.
Almost all victims of sexual assault will have some side effects from the trauma. It’s important to get closure and deal with any feelings of guilt, shame, and fear. As time passes, these emotions will be more manageable. However, depending on the situation, severe mental health concerns, like eating and sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and PTSD, can develop. A qualified counselor can help you deal with the aspects of the event and help you healthily process them. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is one of the most effective ways to heal from past trauma.
Another important aspect of the healing process is to get justice for the wrong that was done to you. If you know the perpetrator, then you need to get the legal system involved. People seek remediation for a variety of reasons with varying levels of efficacy, but it’s essential for closure. Any non-consensual sexual act can be punished in a court of law. Many women are afraid to come forward and name their perpetrators as they fear retaliation and shame. However, things are changing, and the law is protecting people who find themselves a victim of such a crime. While getting the law involved won't erase the wrong done to you, it can help you to get the closure you need.
Picking Up the Pieces
When your life has been shattered into a million pieces, it’s difficult to try to live a normal life. However, you must surround yourself with family and friends. A strong support network is essential for coping with any trauma. Second, don’t stop living. You need to go to work or school and try to maintain some sort of normalcy. Keeping a routine will help you to keep going even when you don’t feel like it. If you feel depression and anxiety creeping into your life, then you need to see a mental health doctor as well as a counselor. You may need medications to get you through this time, and it’s better to have a medical professional on your side than trying to self-medicate.
There will be some rough days after a sexual assault. However, you can take your fight to the courtroom and your counselor. Thankfully, you do have the strength to overcome this traumatic event.
You might also be interested in this article: What to Do If You Think You Might Have PTSD