How the Holidays can be Triggering for Survivors
‘Tis the season for a well needed break from school. For most students, this break is stress relieving and a time to relax, sleep in, and eat food. For some though, the thought of going to break can be terrifying. Some students have had to live through sexual assault, and of those assaulted, 30% would be by family members.
Your family is supposed to be filled with people that you trust, love and care for. If you put yourself into someone's shoes, just imagine going to a family gathering and the uncle sitting across from you has been assaulting you. You’re obviously going to be extremely uncomfortable and scared.
People rarely choose to report sexual assault that they experience, by fear of being accused of lying or because you don't want to cause even more problems. Nationwide, 34.8% of sexual assaults are reported, of those only one-third are identified, while of those they rarely get reported.
Parents and other family members are unlikely to believe survivors because “we would never imagine perfect, well rounded, Uncle Charlie, doing such a thing” which is why many aren’t brought up or reported. Survivors may also feel guilty about getting their family member in trouble, which could be another possible cause for not reporting these assaults.
No matter the circumstances or the reasoning for reporting or not, the experience in itself is traumatizing. Some survivors develop PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which can cause panic attacks, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, or overall anxiety. Throughout the year there are many triggers that could arise that set off the panic attacks. Although while you are visiting with that person or located in the room/house that it happened you can get flashbacks or just feel icky.
For anyone experiencing this, you're not alone, there are millions of others that have been through this traumatic assault. The #Metoo community is a place to bring awareness to these issues in hope for a shift in society. Being aware is the first step in solving the problem.