In Our NYC Therapy Practice, The Kavanaugh News Cycle Has Led To Discussions About Trauma And Sexual Assault
For many patients in our NYC therapy practice, Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings last week with the Senate Judiciary Committee and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony have been a topic of discussion in session. In the past few years, there have been three watershed moments for many women we work with that has resulted in new disclosures or a reappearance of old symptoms related to trauma and sexual assault: Trump’s badgering of Megyn Kelly in the presidential debate in August 2015, the two-week period flood of Weinstein allegations and the third was this past week. Women shared experiences of acute sexual trauma, sexual harassment in the workplace and more recently, experiences of “close calls.”
With the understanding that these memories are being triggered for many women, Medium’s Tessa Miller spoke to Tribeca Therapy’s director Matt to discuss ways to cope when the news cycle triggers PTSD and traumatic memories.
Close Calls And Attempted Sexual Assault Can Be Equally Traumatic And Result In PTSD
Many who experience sexual assault can have lasting symptoms that would qualify for a diagnosis of PTSD, which can include a variety of anxiety and panic-related experiences such as panic attacks and specific phobias, as well as affective symptoms like depression and hypervigilance. Sexual trauma is especially complicated, often resulting in poor sexual decision-making, a difficulty asserting consent and boundaries in future sexual encounters, or a difficulty finding relaxation and enjoyment in healthy sexual activity with consenting partners.
While not included in the article, it’s also worth noting, given the current conversation in Washington, that an attempted sexual assault can be equally traumatic. To be clear, some of these experiences have been previously discussed, though their significance under-appreciated, while others have never come up at all. Dr. Blasey Ford reported that she narrowly escaped the sexual assault, but was in very real fear that both she would be assaulted and that she might be killed. This experience fully qualifies as trauma and can certainly result in PTSD.
One Way To Cope With Trauma? Share Your Experiences With Safe People
In the article, Matt explains that one key resource to cope with previous trauma being triggered by the news is “other safe people.” Of course, in the last few days, similar to the Weinstein allegations and a number of revelations related to Trump’s alleged victims, there have been very powerful moments of people revealing their experiences. But, to do so publicly is complicated and may not be something many women are ready to do. However, as Matt says in Medium, “to share these experiences with friends and partners is vital in changing how they sit with you emotionally.”
This is especially important because, as many have said and continue to say, but it bears repeating: Sexual assault is sadly a common experience and much of the way it plays out can be incredibly isolating. There is power in recognizing that it is an experience shared by other people and that it can be shared with others.