Sexual assault is an umbrella term that encompasses any kind of unwanted sexual activity, including—molestation, rape, abuse or other form of assault. It is not limited to any specific age, gender, sexuality or environment.
It’s one of the most prevalent abuses in the United States, affecting over 80 percent of women and over 40 percent of men; and these numbers only reference the cases that are reported.
Such a traumatic event is likely to trigger both short- and long-term psychological distress in the individual, and it’s not at all uncommon for those who have suffered from sexual assault to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result.
In this article, we’re going to share with you the top four treatment options available for someone who has developed PTSD after being sexually assaulted.
Understanding PTSD from sexual assault
PTSD can be caused by any sort of traumatic life experience, and is known to be prevalent amongst those who suffered from some form of sexual assault.
Since PTSD can result in extreme emotional and physical reactions to memories of the trauma, some of which can be even fatal, it’s important to know the signs of PTSD so you can be able to recognize them in you or someone you know.
Blackouts or dramatic or violent emotional and physical moods
Developing other addictions or disorders
Self-destructive behaviors that can range from risky to potentially fatal
Left untreated, the effects of sexual assault — including PTSD — can become exacerbated and develop into more dangerous symptoms, making seeking treatment of the utmost importance.
Different treatments for assault-rooted PTSD
While the exact method of treatment used to address an individual’s PTSD will vary based on their trauma, background, physical health and more. There are four common methods of treatment that have proven to be very effective in managing and healing from PTSD.
Therapy is one of the most commonly known methods of managing PTSD from sexual abuse, though the type of therapy the patient enrolls in will be specific to their personal situation.
Therapy helps the individual not only process their trauma in a healthy way, but also teaches them how to develop productive coping mechanisms as well as move forward in their lives.
Some forms of therapy include—behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and prolonged exposure therapy—all of which are composed of a specific amount of sessions typically lasting between 12 and 15 weeks, though they can go on for longer.
These therapies are based on speaking with a therapist about the events and learning to process and heal from what happened through engaging in personal and real-world “homework” assignments.
2. Stress Inoculation Training (SIT)
SIT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy specifically used for PTSD; it’s designed to teach people not only how to better handle stress in their lives, but how to prepare for and not fear it. Some of the most common SIT techniques include—learning certain breathwork skills, self-acupressure, as well as learning how to change your mindset and thinking patterns.
3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a structured form of therapy where the patient focuses on briefly remembering the trauma while simultaneously undergoing a series of eye movements. This bilateral stimulation helps to reduce the vividness of the traumatic memory as well as ease the emotional intensity that comes with reliving the memory through PTSD.
4. Select medications
Trauma changes how your brain processes certain situations and events, and with the aggressive nature of sexual assault, PTSD can change how your brain processes threats.
While not always necessary, certain medications may sometimes be recommended to help rebalance the chemistry in the brain that deals with fear and stress.
Find PTSD treatment near you
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted in any way, it’s important to realize that you are not to blame, and that you are not alone. While coming forwards can feel scary or like something you can’t do, we’re here to help you every step of the way.
If you’ve noticed signs of PTSD in you or someone you know, or you suspect they may have PTSD, you can reach out to our team here at Tapestry any time and we’ll be there.