Unfortunately we live in a world where rape culture is so rife that people no longer realise when they engage in it. Though we all know the staggering statistics about sexual assault, we seem to assume that no one we know has gone through that. We would have known! No, you wouldn’t have. Especially if you have been laughing at rape jokes or engaging in them yourself.
When most people think of “a rapist’, they think of a man wearing black clothes in a ski mask. He’s hiding in an alley and waiting for some unsuspecting young, attractive woman to happen across his path so he can attack her by surprise with the weapon he has handy. This attack will likely involve a significant physical assault. They will not know each other. When he is done, he will run off into the night and she will be left blitzed and broken, in need of blaring sirens from police and an ambulance. The facts show this is almost never what actually happens.
Everyone experiences trauma in different ways, but chances are you have just suffered through the most horrific period of your life. You may be feeling raw, guilty, angry, scared or something else entirely. Let me tell you this; the worst part is over. You survived the abuse. You are going to survive the recovery too.
Mental health, just like physical health, isn’t just the absence of disease, but a state of well-being that we constantly strive for. And mental health practitioners can help us improve our mental health skills.
A lot of these skills you’ve acquired growing up. There are skills about social interactions like turn-taking, sharing, reciprocity and empathy. There are also skills about self-regulation and ‘coping’, like eating chocolate, talking to friends, journaling, exercise and using positive affirmation.
Most of the time, the skills we have work well, when we remember to use them. But sometimes we begin to rely on a few too heavily, like emotional eating or regularly shouting to be heard by our partner. Sometimes we encounter a new situation, where our old skills don’t see to be enough, like police officers working in hostage negotiation.