My name is Lucy, I’m 19 years old. Its not easy bringing myself to ask you this sort of question, but I know I really need help. If I remain silence then I’ll be killing myself gradually. At the age of 16 I was raped by one of the armed robbers who came to our house and nothing was done to them, yet the memory keeps recurring to me. I found it difficult to take it off my head but its not working, I know I really have to let go and pick up my life again but i don’t know how, please help me.
Dear Lucy, I appreciate your openness and the willingness to pick up again. Below are the things you can do to get rid of this horrible thought. I don’t think it is a good idea to forget it sweetie. Even if you eventually forget what happened, you are still going to have the emotional pain from it. The best thing you can do is to work through the feelings that came from it.
- Physically You should Seek medical attention – You must see a doctor to receive care for any injuries and to be tested (and receive treatment) for any sexually transmitted infections. This am sure you have done before now, and if not, its never too late you really need to see your doctor for proper check up.
- Realize the rape was NOT your fault – Self-blame is common among rape victims. The only person responsible for the sexual assault is the person who committed the rape. It may take quite some time to rebuild trust in other people. Being the victim of a rape shatters your sense of trust and it’s not something easily rebuilt – like anything else, it takes time.
- Have a counselor – If you realise that you’re having a particularly difficult time coping with the aftermath of the rape, don’t be afraid to find a local counselor who specializes in rape and sexual assault. He can help you walk through the psychological effect of the rape.
- Have control over your environment – Part of healing from a rape or sexual assault involves regaining feelings of control over your environment. In addition to all of the other complicated feelings after a rape, feeling out of control is not uncommon. The rape took away your control – you must fight to bring it back.
- Find – and join – a support group for victims of rape and sexual assault – It is good for you to be among people who understand the feelings you are dealing with. This way, you don’t feel alone and you know there is someone or a group of people who understands exactly what you have passed through.