I only realized that my first time was rape a little more than a year ago — the summer of 2015. So for me, my process of healing didn’t start right after my assault.
It started last year.
So before I get into what my first counselling session was like, let me give you some context.
First, I tried to heal on my own.
Writing is the only thing I know how to do to help myself. So that’s what I did.
I wrote about how sex became completely different for me.
I wrote about where I was six months after my realization, and I talked about it with Grady.
I cried myself to sleep often, and still get flashbacks when I see a movie or a play that deals with sexual assault.
I did a lot of healing of my own, but after a while, I realized some of what I needed to face was so scary that I couldn’t do it on my own. I started having panic attacks when I was alone, and feeling incredibly isolated. I haven’t wanted to have sex in ages, and when I do it’s almost like I like the idea of it, not actually doing it.
I get scared before things can get too intense.
So I decided to do some research about counselling services in my area.
I found the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, or SACE, and was relieved to find that their services are free. (Post-university, I’m still on a bit of a budget. #adulting)
There are also drop-in counselling services in the city, which are not specific to sexual assault, but I figured SACE would be best for me.
In June, I called and arranged to begin my counselling.
The intake counsellor asked me a few questions over the phone, and while most were pretty simple, some were pretty hard.
Like the one where she asked whether or not I was a minor when the assault happened.
I hadn’t even considered that because I was 17, I was a minor.
I was told the waiting list was long, so I’d have to wait until the end of September.
It was sad to hear that so many people need counselling for sexual assault, but I was kind of relieved to wait. I’d made the call a couple days after one of my panic attacks, so I was feeling really emotional and knew it would be hard to do then.
Last week, I finally started my counselling.
Almost exactly a year since I first began processing what happened, I was nervous and a little afraid, which is is to be expected, but you’ll be happy to know that it has been really helpful.
I know there will be things I face that will bring back awful memories and feelings.
I’ve done counselling once before, and it was hard. You go to help yourself in ways you can’t do on your own, so it can get a little scary because of how vulnerable you are.
I knew I would face feelings I have bottled up and pushed down for years, like I had done with my last counselling. While it was cathartic to release them, it was still challenging and scary to do.
And this time, I partially don’t want to — I pushed those feelings away because they hurt, after all. But I know I must face them if I want to heal.
I felt ready, but I also felt so scared to face everything I have buried as well.
With all of that in mind, here’s what my first counselling session was like.
Yes, I was scared, and yes… I did cry.
I wasn’t really surprised by this, but I didn’t expect it. I had figured I’d do the usual overview of what happened, but not get too deep.
Well, apparently the overview was enough to bring up those emotions.
And they were intense.
I felt listened to and believed.
I know it isn’t my fault, but I really can’t help thinking it is.
Somehow, having her tell me it isn’t and why it isn’t really did reassure me. Consent is tricky to me, even though it shouldn’t be, and I’ve argued with myself so much about whether he should have known, whether I should have verbally said something or not.
My counsellor pointed out that me pushing him with my hand is a “no,” and it is enough… and somehow I’d never truly believed it until now.
I realized I’m not “lucky” to have such a supportive partner.
I deserve someone like him, and so does everyone else.
How screwed up has it been for me to keep saying I’m so lucky to have Grady?! I mean, I know he’s amazing and all, and we’re the perfect match, but the way he’s been supporting and respecting me isn’t something I’m lucky to have.
It’s what everyone should bloody well demand!
I don’t know how I didn’t realize this, but I suppose it must have been part of my own internal self-blame. I’m glad I learned this so early on.
I figured out what I want to achieve.
Sort of — they aren’t really measurable goals, but they are goals. This is something I know happens in pretty much any counselling.
They tend to ask, what do you hope to achieve with counselling? What brought you in here? What does success here look like?
For me, it’s being back to myself when it comes to sex, being secure and proud of who I am again, and not feeling like my sexual assault has to be with me at every moment of every day… among other things.
It helps to have these goals in mind.
I was shaky afterward, and did absolutely nothing once I got home.
I’d planned to work a ton on blogging, but I was emotionally shaken so I just couldn’t.
Instead, I watched Netflix and ate comfort food.
And then I went for a walk with Christina — aka C if you’ve been reading my blog for a while — and we hung out in the park like a couple of hooligans. (It really helped me stabilize myself.)
All in all, I’m really glad I started this.
I’ve already made some discoveries about why I feel the way I do, and it’s been helping me. After one session, I actually was able to connect with Grady and talk to him about why I’m afraid, and it brought us closer after months of feeling disconnected.
I hope that this has helped you learn what it’s like to experience therapy after a sexual assault. If you’d like to share your story with me, please feel free to send me an email or leave a comment below 🙂
What do you do to help yourself get through a stressful time? Share in the comments below.
Did you like this post? It would mean the world to me if you’d share it with your friends! Just use the share buttons to the left 🙂
This post has been linked-up at: