Do any of these describe you or a loved one?
- A History of Family Violence – Physical, Sexual &/or Emotional Abuse
- A Victim of Any Form of Sexual Assault (Unwanted Touching, Physical Body Contact of Any Kind)
- Been Bullied, Teased or Threatened
- Are a Victim or a Witness to a Crime
- Experienced a Traumatic Event or Natural Disaster
- Or Need Assistance Coping With & Moving Past the Trauma
As a Licensed Cognitive Behavioral Therapist for over two decades, I have heard stories of horrific suffering & abuse, yet never cease to be amazed by the resilency of trauma survivors, attesting to the strength of the human mind & spirit. While the NIMH estimates that roughly only 7-8% of individuals meet the full criteria for a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Experiencing a traumatic event undoubtedly would not only cause you to incur psychological distress, but quite likely physical & psychological pain & certainly, fear for your life. As a result, most individuals report suffering with bouts of insomnia, nightmares, sudden episodes of anxiety & panic or even flashbacks of being back “in” the situation again, reliving the trauma over again.
According to the most respected organizations in mental health, such as NIMH, American Psychological Association & The Anxiety & Depression Association of America, an Integrated, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach using Cognitive Restructuring, Relaxation, Mindfulness & most notably, Prolonged Exposure Techniques, is the treatment of choice for both acute stress reaction from trauma & PTSD. Additionally, I believe that being able to build a supportive & trusting relationship & create an emotional safe haven for individuals to process & heal their wounds is just as important. A core social work principle is to “start where the client is”; which is always my number one rule. Even the most effective treatment is rendered useless if we are not the correct fit. This is why I always speak with all potential clients on the telephone before scheduling to ensure that we are BOTH comfortable proceeding.
Some alarming statistics:
- 1 in 3 Girls & 1 in 7 Boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they are 18 years old
- 20 people are physically brutalized by an intimate partner every minute – more than 10 million women & men (yes, they are victims of domestic violence also)
- 21% of LGBTQ college students have been sexually assaulted vs 18% of their non-LGBTQ counterparts
- Individuals between the ages of 12-24 are at the highest risk of sexual assault
**Even if you aren’t ready to seek therapy, if you are currently in an abusive relationship, please do something to change your situation, including:
- Tell a close, trusted friend or family member (co-workers, teachers, medical professionals count as well) about the abuse. This is an important first step. THE ABUSE IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
- Document Abuse: Take pictures, document details & description of injuries & give copy to trusted person & keep copy in safe place (see below)
- Make a SAFETY PLAN: In a secure place (rent a locker, stash items in a drawer at work, or leave items at a trusted friend’s house or any place that you feel is safe from your abuser finding them), begin putting together what you would need if & when you do decide to leave. This include cash, clothes, important documents (birth certificates, passports, SS Cards, etc), coloring books/small toys for young children that can be easily picked up & taken), contact info for domestic violence shelters in your area & a prepaid cell phone (your cell phone is trackable so its not a good idea to take it). Also, it is equally important to develop an actual plan for how you will escape quickly, if needed. Tell someone your plan.
- Speak with a Domestic Violence Victim’s Advocate at your local police station, State Attorney’s Office & at
Domestic Violence Organizations. Having worked as one myself years ago, I know that they are extremely knowledgeable to help you to take those first steps to begin to protect yourself & loved ones, as well as how to take legal actions, such as obtaining a Restraining Order, when you feel that you are in danger.
- Harbor House Domestic Violence 24-hour Crisis Line- 407-886-2856
- Safe House Seminole Crisis Line 800-500-1119 or 407-330-3933
- Help Now of Osceola 24 Hour Crisis Line407-847-8562
- FL Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-500-1119
- National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- Central Florida Women’s Resource Center 407-628-3700 or wrc-online.org
- 24 Hour Sexual Assault Hotline 407-497-6701
- 24 Hour Children’s Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-HOPE