For every 15 black women who are raped, only one of them reported it.
Experiencing sexual trauma is horrifying and may leave a person feeling unsafe and distrustful of their own body, relationships, and sexuality.
Sexual trauma occurs when a person is subjected to sexual contact or activity without their consent.
It’s crucial to remember that traumatic events are immensely individual; what one person finds incredibly upsetting may seem trivial to another. Individuals have widely varying reactions to similar life events.
There are two types of sexual trauma: overt, which involves physical contact, and covert, which does not include physical contact, such as being exposed to the sexual actions of others against one’s consent.
The way our nervous systems absorbed the experience is sometimes more important than the specific events themselves when it comes to the trauma our bodies store. Because of this, restoring a sense of equilibrium to the nervous system is sometimes the best and quickest method to deal with undesirable stimuli and start the healing process after sexual trauma.
Sexual Trauma and Social Stigmas
Understanding the harmful preconceptions and misrepresentations about Black women that contribute to crimes committed against them is crucial to ending sexual assault against black women.
There have been hypersexualized portrayals of black women in culture and politics since at least the 1400s. From the dawn of Western civilization, the assumption that black women were mere objects of sexual desire legitimized rape, forced procreation, and other types of compulsion.
Misogyny is a major factor in the perpetuation of sexual assault and violence.
The negative effects of hegemonic frameworks are compounded by patriarchy, especially for black women. Where white women are allowed the space to define and explore their sexuality, black women are defined by and as their sexuality. This raises the topic of the dangers black women endure, since black women are less likely to be believed when reporting sexual violence.
Regrettably, black women’s attachments to community and organizations like the church contribute to a low reporting rate of sexual assault.
Impacts of Sexual Trauma
Sexual trauma is a kind of abuse that can have far-reaching consequences for a person’s health and happiness, including impairments in emotional control and self-awareness, dissociation, and impairments in cognitive mental processes.
Flashbacks, intrusive recollections, poor or inconsistent memory, and reduced social relationship functioning are some of the additional signs of untreated sexual trauma.
Internalized shame, sadness, PTSD, eating disorders, poor body image, low self-confidence, and an increased risk of impulsivity and drug addiction are common among survivors.
The sexuality of a person can be badly impacted by sexual trauma.
Not only does our sexual life include our minds and hearts, but also our bodies.
Intimacy, the ability to experience sex as it was designed to be experienced, and a health relationship with one’s sexuality can all be negatively impacted by a history of unresolved trauma, whether physical, mental, or sexual.
Some survivors who have experienced sexual violence find that distancing themselves from their bodies during sexual activity is an effective way to cope with traumatic memories of the assault.
Body & Trauma Healing
When the mind is overwhelmed by a traumatic experience, pieces of the memory become immobile and cannot be pieced together in the same way that other memories can.
Our brains are only attempting to keep us safe. A frazzled nervous system and unresolved issues are the end result.
Those with a history of unresolved trauma often live in a state of hypervigilance or an ongoing sense of threat. Because a traumatized nervous system is always on the lookout for danger and can’t always tell the difference between genuine and imagined threats, this is the case.
A life-changing relationship in my mid-twenties opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to heal from sexual abuse. I realized that the sexual assault that had taken my innocence caused disassociation from my body. My sexual encounters had only been about satisfying my ego rather than connecting with my body, and I finally understood why.
First off, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know. So, GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. You may still feel guilty or ashamed even though you know, in your head, that you had nothing to do with the rape or sexual assault. These emotions may appear soon after the assault or surface years later. Removing yourself from shame and guilt of what happened to you will help you to engage in health coping mechanisms.
You have the right to heal. We can’t just make the pain of our past go away by wishing it away. Healing is both a destination and a process that requires your active participation. Grant yourself the permission to heal and know that it is a process by defining your own process. It can be as simple as you are making a note of how you are breathing when you have an unpleasant memory about it or in moments of intimacy with your partner. Your breathing is a life force that has the power to ground you.
Reconnect to your body. After experiencing sexual trauma, it can be terrifying to reconnect with one’s body and emotions; your body becomes the adversary, something you may detest or wish to disregard since it’s been abused and tainted. Get back involved in physical activities, so that you can feel comfortable in your body. Rhythmic movement, like dancing can help you to relax and feel in control of your body. Simply dancing in the comfort of your home can be healing to you. I know you are probably tired of hearing about it, but meditation helps as well.
Stay connected. One of the strongest impulses of this form of trauma is the need to isolate. When you are ready to talk about it with a trusted confidant, remember that you have the right to speak your truth.
Self Care is necessary. Relax and let your body regain its equilibrium. Taking a break when you need one is an important part of this, as is resisting the urge to immerse yourself in your pursuits. Use discretion when viewing material. Don’t watch anything if you know it can bring up unpleasant thoughts or memories. Stay away from drugs and alcohol as a means of self-treatment. Drug abuse exacerbates a wide range of trauma-related symptoms, including numbness, isolation, rage, and sadness. Be healthy. While healing from trauma, eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep are even more vital. Exercise may calm your wounded nervous system, reduce tension, and make you feel stronger.
If you would love to speak with me, someone who has been through the same and understands what you are experiencing at this time, I am available here: SCHEDULE HERE.
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