It’s been said by many that time heals all wounds, but for those who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault, the effects can linger long after the incident.
It has been 16.5 months since I was invited to dinner by a good friend. I didn’t think twice about accepting his invitation because I have always felt comfortable and safe in his presence. We had a fantastic dinner at a new restaurant in town and then went back to watch football.
𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭…. 𝐔𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐥 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐧’𝐭.
This huge man pinned me down and started kissing and groping me out of nowhere. I told him no, we are not doing this. He didn’t listen. He kept forcefully trying to pull my legs apart. Again, I said no, we are not having sex. His response… “What? We have already talked about being friends, and now we are friends having fun.” Long story short, I got myself out of this terrifying situation before he raped me.
Almost a month later, after the holiday season, the lingering effects of that night surfaced. In a conversation, I explained that I hadn’t been sleeping well and felt like I had been losing desire for the things I enjoy.
Hearing the words, Melissa, you were assaulted, froze me. Of course, I knew what happened was wrong, but a part of me didn’t want to see the situation for what it was. I attempted to write it off as a close call since I was able to get out of there.
What I have learned about sexual assault while working with a therapist and my coach/mentor:
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience sexual violence during their lifetime. The aftermath of such an experience is a complex recovery process unique to each person.
Sexual assault can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental and physical well-being, and it is common for survivors to experience feelings of insecurity, shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Another lasting effect that many have, and one I am still personally working through today, is the loss of feeling safe in my body and, at times, having to force myself to get dressed up and do my hair and makeup. (Not wanting to draw attention.)
One of the most damaging beliefs I and many sexual assault survivors hold is that their experience wasn’t as bad as someone else’s. This comparison has no place in a survivor’s healing journey, and it’s important to recognize that every experience of sexual assault is valid.
Every survivor deserves compassion, validation, and the support they need to move forward and live a fulfilling life. It’s essential to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to feel and that everyone’s healing journey is different.
Depression and PTSD are commonly reported mental health issues among sexual assault survivors. The question of why this occurs is complicated and multifaceted. Still, it’s generally believed that the overwhelming traumatic nature of the experience disrupts the survivor’s sense of safety and changes the way they perceive the world around them. I can attest to the truth of this!
Survivors may experience difficulty sleeping, have intrusive thoughts and memories related to the assault, and struggle with intense shame and fear. Seeking out support is essential in managing depression and PTSD and can provide survivors with the tools to move forward in the healing process.
In addition to depression and PTSD, survivors of sexual assault may experience emotional eating and weight gain. This is because eating can be a way to manage difficult emotions, provide comfort, and even serve as a coping mechanism. Eating becomes a habit, and the cycle of emotional eating can be challenging to break. Working with a therapist or qualified nutritionist can help survivors educate themselves on healthy eating habits and strategies to help minimize the impact of emotional eating.
It’s crucial to acknowledge that healing from sexual assault is not a linear process, and it’s natural to experience ups and downs throughout the journey. Some days may feel overwhelming, and others may feel perfectly fine. However, there is hope and healing to be found. With the help of therapy, loved ones, and practicing self-care, survivors can move forward and live full and meaningful lives.
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that can affect a survivor’s mental and physical health. Emotional eating, lack of safety, depression, PTSD, and weight gain are just a few of the issues that survivors of sexual assault may face. Survivors need to seek professional help and know that there’s no shame in doing so.
For me, overcoming these challenges has required a combination of professional help, i.e., therapist and High Performance Coaching™, lifestyle changes, and healthy coping mechanisms. By participating in regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, and finding healthy ways to cope with stress, I have been able to reclaim my power and continue healing.
Remember that healing is a process that takes time, but with the proper support, it is possible to overcome the lasting effects of sexual assault. Survivors should never compare their experiences to others and remember that their trauma is valid and deserving of compassion and support.
It’s time to break the silence and shatter the stigma surrounding sexual assault – together, we can pave a path to healing.
Help Resources: National sexual assault hotline: 1-800-656-4673
About the Author:
Hi, I am Melissa Lynn, a Leading Certified High Performance Coach™, Nutrition/Health Coach, Life/Leadership Coach, and Author. I am the CEO of Melissa Lynn Coaching and Consulting LLC., where I focus on helping others maximize their full potential, retrain their brain, and create new beliefs, routines, and High Performance habits aligned with their purpose and goals. My mission is to help others live life to the fullest, love openly, and make a greater impact on this world.
My passion for personal growth and development was born out of my professional experience working as both a Project Manager in the EPA/OSHA industry and an SME contractor with a DOE research facility. During this time, I observed directly how mental toughness, resilience, and grit strongly influenced employee efficiency and safety-related incidents. This first-hand recognition inspired me to reconnect with my authentic self and embark upon an intensive journey for personal growth and happiness.
I achieved considerable success on this path, discovering the formula to overcome stress and emotional eating, work through fears, and create work/life balance, including releasing 115 pounds. Out of this success, I was inspired to create my transformational coaching process, From The Boardroom To The Bedroom™, Becoming the Woman Who is Alive and Free! This achievement sparked my love for helping others awaken and step into their greatness in all areas of life.
Learn more about my personal story here: https://www.melissalynncoaching.com/about/
I offer 1-1 Coaching, Group Programs, VIP Mastery Days, Voice Coaching, and more.
You can book a complimentary session with me here: