How to Deal with Triggering News about Sexual Assault

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Last week was tough. Many of us felt frustration, pain, anger and rage at the treatment of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. We saw some common narratives about sexual assault resurface that shame and blame victims and protect the accused.

She must have something to gain. I smell a book deal!

This is completely political. It’s clearly a smear campaign.

Why didn’t she report it at the time if it was so bad?

How can she even be sure it was him? It was so long ago? Should we really ruin a man’s life over something that may or may not have happened when they were kids?

We know we don’t need to say it again, but we will. THIS IS WHY WOMEN DO NOT REPORT.

We reached out to Dr. Caroline Heldman for some advice in the aftermath of the hearings. Dr. Heldman is an expert in the topics of sexual assault, gender, power and politics. Learn more about this Nasty Woman here.

Here’s what she had to say.

“This past week has been difficult for survivors of sexual violence. We have witnessed the most powerful men in our nation either dismissing the credibility of a survivor, or acknowedging that she is credible, but that her pain simply does not matter. For politicians, it's just politics. For survivors, it's our lives. Hearing Dr. Blasey Ford's account may have triggered memories of your sexual assault. Watching people defend Kavanaugh on social media and in powerul political positions may have triggered anxiety about why you didn't report, or that you were not believed when you did report. First, know that you are not alone. Other survivors and allies stand with you during this dehumanizing time. Secondly, know that you are loved by a vast group of survivors who are connected through our common trauma. The survivor sisterhood is strong, and we will make it though together.”

If you’re a sexual assault survivor in need of support, please contact The National Sexual Assault Hotline. Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

You can also find Tips about Self Care for Survivors and information about dealing with Triggering News about Sexual Assault.

Survivors, we love you, we believe you and we stand with you.

Emily Davis