by Ashley Sargent, CMWN Board Member

Recently, sexual assault, rape, and the physical traumas women and men are forced to endure has become a common topic in news and conversation. While I am grateful that we as a society are finally having these conversations, I am struggling as an individual.

My background and history

I’m new to living in recovery from habitual sexual assault, rape, and mistreatment by men.  While I work very hard, I am still new to this path, and my wounds are quite fresh.  My first assault happened as a small child and a pattern of it has continued in various forms my whole life.  My most recent event happened less than a year ago and I’m still working to unpack and understand everything that I have gone through and how common it really is. The process of recovering from trauma is challenging, and to be surrounded and bombarded by similar stories makes the process even more difficult.  Our collective conversation has become centered around a topic that already haunts me.

How I felt hearing the news

When the initial news about Harvey Weinstein broke, I found myself in a sudden downpour of information and stories I wasn’t ready for.  At some point, the stories on the screen opened a flood of memories in my own mind and I was back in that place of fear and danger.  Thanks to the power of therapy, I was able to recognize that I was triggered, dissociating, and losing control.  In this moment, it was crucial for me to recognize what was happening and share that information with someone safe.  In sharing my struggle, I have been able to get the help I need to stay out of the land of trauma and amongst the land of my safe people.  From this foundation of safety, I am able to once again engage in the conversation from a safe and supportive place.

Planning for wellness

After accepting that I am struggling, I’ve had to make a long-term plan to help me continue being successful.  I am using specific tools that my trauma counselor and I have developed together, like EMDR and containment techniques. I have also increased my personal check-ins and allow for more personal reboots.  It takes a huge amount of emotional energy to keep up extra boundaries and it is easy to become worn out without even realizing. I know that I have to be extra mindful right now and that’s okay.  Taking extra time to unplug from the conversation is necessary for me.  Self-care is crucial if I am going to be able to stay grounded no matter what the collective conversation is.

Moving forward while maintaining self-care

For me, the challenge of working to be mindful and staying grounded is worth it to be informed and connected to what is going on in the world and our country.  While it may be difficult for me, and many others, I am grateful for this movement.  I am grateful that we are having these conversations and that so many individuals are speaking out.  Yes, it hurts and is terrifying, but we have to suck all of this poison out before we can heal.  By talking about our traumas together, we can shift the culture of shame and fear to one of collective healing.  I am a drop in this collective trauma tidal wave washing across our country, but I know that every drop is important.  I refuse to let those who have hurt me win again by hiding in fear from this conversation. I also recognize that I am a human with some broken pieces.  I am on a journey to put my pieces back together and so during this time when the conversation is triggering and can hinder my progress, I know that I have to keep myself and my well-being in the forefront of my mind.  In doing this I set myself up for great success in helping shift the story and heal our collective wounds.

If you too are struggling, please know that there are resources available

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
They will connect you with a trained staff member in your area

Denver Domestic Violence Initiative, which is a resource specifically for women.
For more information please check out their website

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