I have heard that people can experience Post-Traumatic Stress disorder after a rape/sexual assault. What is it and why do people get PTSD? I thought only soldiers could get it.

It’s a common misconception that only war veterans experience PTSD. However, PTSD is a condition that can be triggered by a traumatic event, any traumatic event, whether experienced by yourself or even just witnessing it. Even something as seemingly small as a car accident can cause PTSD, so it is no wonder someone who has experienced a sexual assault may develop it.

Symptoms may not appear right away, but there are four types of symptoms common to sufferers of PTSD: Intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking or mood and changes in emotional reactions. (The Mayo Clinic). These symptoms can seriously impact one’s life if left untreated.

List courtesy of Mayoclinic.org:

Intrusive Memories:

Recurring, distressing memories of the event, relieving the event as if it were happening over and over again (flashbacks), upsetting dreams, severe distress/physical reaction to anything that reminds you of the event (triggers).

Avoidance:

Avoiding thinking, talking about event and staying away from places, people or activities that remind you of the event.

Negative changes in thinking and mood:

Negative feelings about yourself or others (shame and guilt may play a large role here), inability to express positive emotions, emotionally numb, lack of interest in things you once enjoyed, hopelessness about the future, memory issues, difficulty maintaining close relationships (such as isolating yourself, pushing away people you care for).

Changes in emotional reactions:

Irritability, angry outbursts, aggressive behavior, hypervigilance (always being on guard for danger), overwhelming guilt or shame, self-destructive behavior, trouble concentrating or sleeping, easily startled or frightened.

If you are experiencing PTSD, or know someone is, there is hope! There are many successful ways to treat PTSD, including activities like Yoga. Even just speaking about your experience may help you come to terms with the event that has impacted your life in such a way. There is additional resources available as well, and we can help you find them.

Leave a Reply