Healing After Sexual Assault
“Who knows what the Black woman thinks of rape? Who has asked her? Who cares?”- Alice Walker
Black women account for the majority of rape cases in the United States, but unfortunately many don’t report the case which is saddening . According to an ongoing study by the Black Women’s Blueprint , 60% of Black girls experience sexual assault by the time they’re 18. For every one woman that does report rape, about 15 women don’t. Why? Some say it can be traced back to the slavery days where captors frequently raped Black women. Others say that the societal pressure of being “a strong Black woman” keeps them from them from being verbal about the violations against their body.
“As a black woman I’m taught to be strong and not let anything affect me,” said Morgan State junior Zharray Johnson in an interview with City Paper. “If something happens to me I am just supposed to deal with it.”
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, sexual violence can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on a survivor. These include:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Eating Disorders
- Self Harm
- Substance Use
- Sleep Disorders
Our queens are suffering in silence and we need to help them desperately. A challenge like this requires what Dr. Carolyn West, an award-winning author and Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington, calls “ a culturally appropriate response.”
Here are Dr. West’s tips on how Black women can heal after sexual assault.
Keep a journal.
A lot goes on emotionally and even physically post-sexual assault. Feelings of shame, guilt, anger and fear. Writing your feelings down in a journal can help you start to unload and unpack the feelings that might come about because of your experience. If you’re currently seeking professional help be sure to write down your questions, thoughts and concerns so that you can receive the optimal benefits of your sessions. This space can also be used as a vision board for your goals and aspirations. Journaling can be a powerful experience in and of itself.
Regaining your strength can also be found in helping others. The power of uplifting other people with your own experiences can be healing. Find a local grassroots organization within the African American community to become involved with. Through helping other people you’ll see that your story is unique, but similar at the same time. Aligning yourself with other survivors will give you the strength you need to move forward and help push other women in a positive direction.