Given all the talk about sexual assault and trauma survivors coming forward about past allegations of abuse, the presidential election has shown a spotlight once again onto sexual abuse and the ill treatment of survivors.
Although there is a benefit to increasing the national conversation on sexual assault towards the goal of improving treatment for survivors and reducing overall victimization rates, there is a profound impact on trauma survivors who find their PTSD symptoms retriggered.
In the weeks leading up to the election there was increased reports of trauma survivors calling crisis lines like RAINN and therapists who treat trauma survivors were reporting high levels of distress and increased PTSD symptoms among clients who were previously doing better. Survivors reported experiencing an increase in flashbacks, resurgence in nightmares, recalling aspects of the trauma at unwanted times in intrusive ways, heightened levels of fear, discomfort with leaving the house, and reminders of shame/guilt/and inappropriate self-blame prompted by victim blaming talk in the media.
There was even discussion of how the election was triggering perpetrators as well, resulting in the possibility of people being retraumatized.
Whether evidence truly supports the connection between the election and victimization rates or symptom rates, it is clear to people on the ground level that the election and post-election has sent a wave of aftershocks through the sexual trauma world and women in general. Since 43% of women experience sexual abuse or assault at some time in their life according to the Office fir Victims of Crime and CDC, then it is imperative that the public be aware of how trauma survivors across the world may be impacted by, sometimes unknowingly by current events.h
Megan Garza, MA, LMFT is a certified Specialist in Treating Trauma at a Supervisory level and is Licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. She specializes in work with sexual abuse survivors.