As the #MeToo movement continues to spread, we see the magnitude of the problem of sexual harassment and assault. With the sense of support and relief in the shared stories, there can also arise a range of difficult issues and feelings. The memories themselves can bring back the original experience of painful shame, humiliation and helplessness. As you hear others stories, long forgotten events may rise to the surface and feel overwhelming. Even the original physical and visceral sensations can be triggered. The intensity of these emotions and feelings can be disruptive to your everyday life and need attention.
Making Your Own Choices
Feeling safe is essential to healing from trauma. Part of the safety is being able to make your own choices. This relates to if, how and when you share your experience of that trauma. To some, sharing on the internet with #MeToo may be empowering and a tremendous support. To others, that level of sharing may be intimidating and too exposing. It’s important to recognize, there are choices. Staying silent till you’re ready to share is acceptable or sharing with the right safe person like a close friend, family member or therapist. Everyone is different and you get to tune in to what is right for you based on your own unique needs and feelings.
While going through a process of healing from trauma, recognize what you may need for your own self care. That can take many forms as alone time in a relaxing and nurturing environment. Being outside in nature or meditating or even giving yourself more time to rest or sleep. Spending time with family or friends who you feel especially safe with and also where you can be more yourself without pressure or expectation. See how much time you want to actually talk about the event or just giving yourself space to be silent is important.
Therapy for Trauma
Sexual harassment and assault can be very traumatic. Even the more subtle forms of harassment can be debilitating where you are left confused and doubting your experience while at the same time feeling threatened. Learning about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can help you understand the many effects of trauma including anxiety, depression, difficulties in relationship or low self-esteem. Many forms of therapy have been proven to be very effective with treating trauma. Specific therapy tools like EMDR ( eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) have been developed for recovery from all kinds of trauma and to help people move on. Now is the time, more than ever, with this phenomenal #MeToo Movement, with all the resources available, to reach out and get the support and help you need, and to know that healing is possible.
Marlena Kushner, MFT is a licensed psychotherapist with over 30 years experience working in San Francisco and San Rafael. She is also a certified EMDR therapist specializing in trauma treatment, recovery from sexual abuse and grief. She can be reached at (415)563-2759 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org