The Aftermath: Helping a Friend After Sexual Assault or Abuse

The Aftermath: Helping a Friend After Sexual Assault or Abuse

After sexual assault, rape, or abuse, it’s important to offer support tailored to the survivor.

Some may want to walk through all the details, and others won’t want to talk about it at all. It’s also important to recognize that you can help by getting the survivor to a trained professional - a doctor if there’s been any kind of physical trauma, the police to file a report, and a counselor or psychologist to help with the mental aftermath.

Not everyone who experiences sexual assault will have trauma or ptsd afterward.

But it’s important to look out for the signs, like nightmares, flashbacks, angry outbursts, feeling jumpy, or feeling “out of control.” …

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Talking to Your Kids About Tragic Events

Talking to Your Kids About Tragic Events

There are always scary things happening in the world - some very close to home, and some very far away. 

Children are often aware of these scary things on some level, so it's important to talk to them, be it about terrorism, natural disasters, protests, violence, or even fears about nuclear actions. Especially with yesterday's news in Florida, which hits so close to home for so many of us with school aged children, or loved ones in Florida - it's hard to know what to say and how to say it.

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Trauma-Focused Therapy

What is trauma?

As a trauma-focused therapist, I have two answers to this question. Trauma includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, interpersonal violence, community violence,  medical trauma, and natural disasters - these are the classic, major traumas. Trauma, though, can also include traumatic stressors that people don't always consider. Examples include grief, bullying, moving to a new city or neighborhood, poor school performance, adoption or foster care, divorce, and so on.

I also find that children and adolescents respond to different traumatic stressors in very different ways. One child may experience a one time traumatic event, and after a few brief sessions they are operating back to normal. Other children experience one or two traumatic stressors, and they need more consistent traumatic therapy for a longer period of time. Every individual has their own distress tolerance, and everyone responds to their stressors in very different ways. 

The great news is, no matter the trauma or stress, therapy is helpful. I typically utilize a CBT framework, teaching clients about common reactions to stress and trauma; normalizing their feelings of guilt, anger, or sadness; building relaxation skills, including homework for them to practice at home; and learning about common thoughts that people have following a trauma. After this strong foundation is built over multiple sessions, clients then work on their trauma narrative - their version of what they experienced. We gradually include more and more details, making the memories feel less traumatic and upsetting over time.

This whole process requires a collaborative, compassionate approach - and it is, consistently, my favorite area to work with as a therapist. 

Curious to see this in action? Contact Kelsey for an appointment today! compassionatecounselingstl@gmail.com or (314) 339-7640