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A Journey of Healing: The After of Sexual Trauma

This is a photographic assemblage of portraits that tells the narrative of a victim of sexual assault. The story begins by recounting the emotional reaction the victim experienced after the assault and continues by showing her process of recovery. This is the story of one woman’s trauma, but serves to show other victims that they are not alone and that they can also achieve recovery.

The reaction phase occurs directly after the assault and may last for several weeks. It is common for the victim’s life to be disrupted and shifted drastically due to an attack. During this time the victim is bombarded with a magnitude of varying emotions.

Shock: “I felt numb. Numb to showing any emotions. I couldn’t understand, why didn’t I cry?”
Disbelief: “I kept telling myself that nothing happened, it couldn’t be a sexual assault because it wasn’t a stranger that did this to me.”
Embarrassment: “I couldn’t tell my family, what would they think of me?”
Shame: “My skin crawled from his touch. No matter how much I washed, I felt like there was something wrong with me.”
Depression: “I didn’t feel like myself. I was so tired, I felt like I couldn’t do anything.”
Powerlessness: “I had no control over my emotions or life anymore.”
Disorientation: “I couldn’t concentrate on anything. It was hard to complete simple tasks let alone get through the day.”
Retriggering: “My thoughts were filled with flashbacks of the event, a playback stuck on repeat.”

During the recovery phase, the life of the victim no longer revolves around the assault. The survivor begins to regain control over their life. It is important to consult a specialized therapist to aid in finding a recovery process that will support you. After reaching out to a therapist, they may suggest focusing on creating a new schedule to promote a better life. This includes experiencing new relationships, activities, and goals. A self-care routine can aid in developing a regular schedule. Self-care allows survivors to come up with ways to manage these intense emotions.

“I practice physical self-care through the act of yoga.”
“I like to practice self-care by putting on a face masks to respect my body”
“I find quiet meditation guides me to clear my mind and manage my emotions.”

Even after experiencing a sexual trauma, there is hope. As a survivor you are not alone. It shows a considerable amount of courage to reach out for support. But it is extremely important, as it is the first step in the recovery process of regaining control over one’s emotions and to be able to trust in one’s self again.

Kent State University Student