With the recent spate of high profile celebrities and news personalities being exposed as having long and sometimes very disturbing histories of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, victims of sexual abuse find themselves faced with a minefield of potential triggers every time they turn on the television or look at social media. Something that isn’t often discussed during this spate of explosive accusations and confessions, is how all this news affects survivors of sexual harassment or assault, as well as how victims who may be considering coming forward can handle the task.
One thing that has proven to be invaluable to survivors is having a strong, solid support network of friends, family, and professionals that you can lean on when times are hard. This is why online mental health providers like Talkspace have been seeing ever-increasing interest and traffic in recent years. These services connect people to trained mental health professionals, when they need it, where they need it, allowing them access to a therapist from the convenience of their smart phone.
Even with a strong support network, it can be difficult to read through the stories of other people’s experiences of sexual abuse or assault, even for someone who has never been a victim. Talkspace understands that the situation is especially difficult for survivors who may be triggered by the accounts, causing them to have to deal with a lot of the pain, memories, and emotions of their experience all over again. This can be highly traumatic and can set someone back quite a few steps in their process of recovery.
It seems like everyday a new spate of stories are released, leaving survivors to feel bombarded by these stories. Talkspace notes that even people who have survived assault, only to become advocates, still suffer from the onslaught of stories that come out with each passing day. One of the ways that many survivors are choosing to cope with the current environment of heightened awareness of sexual abuse, is to keep their support networks, with assistance from professionals like Talkspace, close at hand so they can lean on them when they need it.
However, other people feel empowered by the brave stories of survivors who risk so much to shed light on what is a much larger problem than many people may have thought. Talkspace understands that people have different reactions to this type of news and what may be traumatic for one survivor may be the jump-start that another needs to become active in their community, fighting for victim’s rights and support services.
One thing that experts at Talkspace understand is that this new environment where we are hyper-aware of this deep-rooted problem is that people are, at the current moment, much more inclined to believe victims coming forward. Not being believed is one of the biggest fears of survivors and is one of the things that keeps them from coming forward about their experiences to begin with. Too often we have put the burden of proof on victims, questioning their behavior, and looking to put blame on the victim, rather than on the perpetrator where it belongs. If one good thing can come out of this new #metoo phenomena, it will be a willingness to believe victims, both male and female, without attempting to put blame on them in the process. Survivors of sexual harassment and assault often report that, aside from the actual experience of the assault, the way that people questioned them and their motives was one of the hardest parts of the experience.
The professionals at Talkspace understand that the current environment of heightened awareness can be a double-edged sword. For some women, it leads to a sense of empowerment, making them feel strong enough to come forward, and giving them the comfort of knowing that they aren’t alone in their experience. For others, however, the steady stream of news is like a constant triggering of their own experience, leading them to untold amounts of inner turmoil. It can make simply trying to look at social media an almost traumatizing experience, as it is hard to avoid these stories that seem to pile up more and more.
One of the best pieces of advice for victims who are struggling under the current wave of exposure, having someone unbiased, professional, and there on demand, like the remote therapy options provided by places like Talkspace, can really help make dealing with this situation a lot easier. Help is out there and there is no shame in needing someone to talk to, take advantage of the options that are available to you, as it will allow you to better cope, not only with your own experience, but also the constant stream of news about more high profile cases of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse as well. Self-care is incredibly important and only you can provide it for yourself.