Surviving Sexual Assault: You Don’t Have to Walk Alone

aloneBy Heather Miller-EdwardsonThe National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports, on average in the United States, 500 women are sexually assaulted every day. One in five women and one in 71 men will experience sexual assault throughout their lifetime. Women ages 20-24 hold the highest risk for sexual assault. Sexual assault as the United States Department of Justice defines it is “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” Of these sexual assaults, 63% are not reported. Survivors walk alone in this journey for fear of their attackers, the court process, and further victimization.These statistics represent a crisis in our communities nationwide. A silent crisis that many survivors walk alone. Women and men who have experienced sexual assault often report fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, shame, and self-blame. Intrusive memories, depression, and changes in relationships with friends, family, and partners is common. Although trauma impacts individuals differently, survivors of sexual assault can find healing in learning how to cope with their reactions to the trauma. Survivors report finding support in talking with friends, family members, and professional counselors. Exercising, yoga, being in nature, and healthy eating habits are other helpful tips to aid in the healing journey.Although this crisis is concerning, it is not without solutions. Let’s start the conversation. Let’s begin to change how we talk, listen, and act regarding sexual assault. Are there individuals in your life that have been affected by sexual violence? Have you? Let’s change our conversation to create openness and support for survivors in our communities. Let’s empower women and men impacted by sexual assault to heal from this trauma. Let’s do this together, every voice matters.If you are a survivor of sexual assault or have been impacted by sexual violence, we are here to help. As a professional counselor, I have had the honor to walk alongside survivors in their path towards healing. I specialize in providing trauma-focused care and believe in creating a safe and sacred space to work through trauma.Are you ready to being the conversation? April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Let’s start to change our communities today.Helpful Resources: Sexual Violence Resource Center: 1-877-739-3895National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by RAINNTo be connected to the rape crisis center nearest to you, dial 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)