Letter to the editor: A sexual assault victim's point of view


Victims of sexual assault, no matter how long ago, are still being victimized today. How is this possible? It's simple. People fail to realize that trauma doesn't end because a sexual predator has served time in prison. Trauma, from the victim's perspective, lingers on well past the actual physical assault. Dealing with trauma is different for every victim. Post trauma, victims are affected in many different ways depending on the type of trauma that took place. We must remember that a traumatic experience can happen to anyone; there's no respectable person. Being molested and/or raped are a few examples of the type of trauma victims face in the world. We shouldn't be so eager to cast judgment on a victim just because we weren't present to "quote-unquote" verify the assault.

A victim's point of view looks very different from what people imagine. After trauma, a person who once lived a normal life may not get to fully return to that life. What happens after trauma will vary depending on the type of support system the victim has. Without a solid support system, a victim may turn to drugs, or worse, as forms of coping mechanisms. Victims also come into contact with triggers that act as reminders of their assault. For example, have you ever smelled a fragrance that reminded you of a specific place or time during your childhood? Most of us will answer yes to this question. Well, this is what happens to victims. Scents and/or images that may have been present during an attack can all act as triggers in the lives of victims. Even coming face to face with the individual who attacked them is a trigger. These triggers are responsible for victims reliving that traumatic episode repeatedly.

Although victims find a way to continue on, in some cases, it doesn't mean that the trauma isn't still very much present in their lives. Victims make every attempt to move on in life post trauma. While it may be true that the trauma doesn't have to overtake them, it's also true that what they experienced is still very real. For example, have you ever had a broken bone that required you to wear a cast? After your fracture has healed, you are able to resume with your normal activities. However, throughout life, you don't completely forget that your extremity was broken. This is what a victim experiences throughout the rest of their lives following a traumatic event. Memories of the assault may diminish, but they don't fully disappear. Raising children is a beautiful thing for so many people. However, from a victim's point of view, they worry if their children will be assaulted as they had been. Some victims are so physically damaged post trauma that they lose their ability to even conceive.

This is why it's crucial that we stand as one and pave the way for victims! Why should a victim ever have to come face to face with the individual who attacked them? Put yourselves in the shoes of a victim. How would you cope? Would you be able to cope? A victim's head is often clouded with so many questions. They wonder why the assault happened in the first place and how long the shame/pain will last. Also, there are concerns about becoming impregnated or even contracting STDs as a result of being victimized.

Let's come together and increase awareness of sexual assault. As I stated previously, sexual assault can happen to anyone. While we may not be able to prevent every attack, we can work diligently on creating new laws in favor of victims. These laws will help victims feel safer and be able to thrive knowing that they have a great support system.