Counselors in Acadiana help sexual assault survivors cope with long-term trauma

Posted at 6:13 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 19:23:03-04

Because of the “Me Too” movement and most recently the Brett Kavanaugh investigation, sexual assault has been in the news.

For some survivors, hearing about it so often is triggering their trauma.

Counselors at Hearts of Hope in Lafayette are working to help survivors with long term trauma in Acadiana.

“During the Ford testimony there was an increase on our crisis line. You people, when they hear things in the media and they’re triggered by different things, and so it might cause them to think about their past,” explained Sexual Assault Response Center counselor, Kristen Bell.

For those dealing with long-term trauma for sexual assault, counselors are using a cognitive behavioral approach.

It’s an approach that teaches a survivor how change thought patterns and behaviors that are causing their mental difficulties.

“A lot of times, you know, a survivor my believe like they’re at guilt or they’re at fault for something like that happened to them, and so challenging those thing with them can be very helpful to their healing,” said Bell.

One technique that the counselors train the survivors to use is called grounding.

“A survivor may have a reaction to what they’ve experienced. They may hear something or they may see someone that is triggering for them. They can use grounding to kinda like remind themselves that you know, what happened in the past is not happening right now,” explained Bell.

Grounding employs hands-on practical approaches to overcome anxiety, intrusive thoughts, or even PTSD flashbacks.

Some examples include tracing the outline of your body with your hands, tapping your foot, or writing down your thoughts.

“Kinda get themselves back into, well you know maybe I’m in the grocery store, and you know I see what I’m shopping for. You know I need to get back to what I’m shopping for, things like that,” explained Bell.

A recent University of Pittsburgh study shows women who have survived sexual assault are three times as likely to experience depression and twice as likely to experience high levels of anxiety.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault and need assistance, call the Hearts of Hope Rape Crisis Hotline at (337)233-7273.