By: Janelle Schlueter, MS, LPC, NCC, CCTP
How important is ‘normalizing’ for survivors of sexual assault? Arguably it is the most essential part. Normalizing occurs when a therapist takes a thought that the client believes to be ‘abnormal’ or ‘shameful’ and helps the client see that it is actually ‘normal.’ This is most often done through trauma-informed education. The result of normalizing is the removal of shame and the addition of confidence. Normalizing also significantly speeds up the healing process.
There Are Two Questions That I Often Normalize in My Work With Sexual Assault Survivors:
Is it Normal That I Became Aroused During the Sexual Assault? Does That Mean I Wanted it to Happen?
Physical arousal does not equal consent. Arousal is a natural body response. It is possible for a person not to want to participate in a sexual act, and their body can still respond to physical sensations by becoming aroused. An orgasm is even possible. It is more common than you’d think, but even during a sexual assault, the body response can overtake the anxious fight/flight thoughts. This means that you do not have to be emotionally calm and comfortable to feel pleasure. Once again, physical arousal or even orgasm does not equal consent!
Is it Normal to Have Romantic Dreams About my Perpetrator?
When something traumatic happens to you, your brain has trouble accepting it as a reality. To allow you to gradually accept that the event has happened, your brain tends to change the memory to something more pleasant. This takes place in dreams when you cannot change your thoughts. Your brain will create more pleasant versions of what happened to you. These changes could be someone coming to your rescue, you physically fighting and winning, or making the event consensual and romanticized.
Healing From Sexual Assault:
I am a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional who specializes in working with sexual assault survivors. I often hear from my clients that they are ‘ashamed’ by thoughts like these and others like them. It is vital to understand that shame or embarrassment after sexual assault is expected, but it is not yours to hold!
Let Go of Shame.
One way to let go of the shame is through your self-talk. Keep in mind that ‘our thoughts are not always our friend’. When you have encountered sexual assault, your thoughts tend to be hostile towards yourself. Keep challenging yourself with “would I say this to a friend who was sexually assaulted?” If the answer is no, do not say it to yourself!
Begin Therapy and Find Healing After Sexual Assault in Katy, TX!
If you are ready to find healing after sexual assault, one of the therapists at The Center at Cinco Ranch can help! We provide mental health counseling, as well as other mental health services. To begin counseling in Katy, TX follow these three steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or to learn more about trauma-informed therapy
- Meet with one of our compassionate therapists
- Find healing and peace!
Other Therapy Services We Offer:
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch, we offer counseling services for people of all ages in areas including counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, men’s issues, women’s issues, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, trauma counseling, family therapy, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to post blogs regularly. We provide helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!