Sexual Assault in Focus

Note: this post  addresses the nature of sexual assault. There are no pictures or graphics included.

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are in focus as national news of the Kavanaugh-Ford  hearing and supreme court nomination delay hit Friday September 28 2018.

In the week leading up to the emotional testimony of both parties and the initial conclusions of the senators present, the number of calls to the National Sexual Assault hotline spiked somewhere between 147% and 201%. Two women were captured on video cameras confronting Senator Jeff Flake, sharing their own stories of sexual assault, as he made his way back to the hearing room.

As a mental health counselor who sees clients who frequently report sexual assault, abuse, and harassment during their therapy sessions, let me emphatically underline this statement. My treatment process for victims of sexual assault are a non-partisan, non-political process. Sexual assault happens to men, women, and children globally, not just in America;  it’s is a human rights issue without national boundary. However, it’s unconscionable to say nothing out of fear it will be misinterpreted as national political bias.

I have written this short post without links to any news media in order to make my point clearer. This is a post about sexual assault, not about opinion or politics.

Sexual assault is a human problem, not just a politicized one.  However, to respond humanely to the problem, action must travel through our political system, and currently, the American political system is a wretched mess.

Sexual assault  is also complex to define in legal terms and interpretations, and it’s that complexity that has many people arguing at what it is and isn’t, even in court.  At bare minimum, sexual assault involves sexual contact or behavior that occurs without affirmative consent. While that may sound cut-and-dry to some, others find that baffling enough to ask whether a particular incident constitutes sexual assault.

The following story and details have been changed to provide anonymity. I remember talking to a friend on the phone as she made her way down a busy street. All of sudden she screamed, and I found myself shouting, “Are you alright? Do you need me to call the police? What’s happening?” She promptly told me she was OK, and that a man had walked up to her and violently touched her body and then ran away.  When I urged her to call the police to report it, she laughed me off and assured me that she didn’t want to take any action, saying that this kind of behavior happened to her all her life.

Based on what happened to this friend, she had, by definition, been sexually assaulted in broad daylight. Her choice to interpret what happened as something to brush off because it happened so frequently without any consequences reminds me that there are millions of people who have been victims of sexual assault and violence, many of whom never come forward even in the case of rape and other forms of bodily harm. Many think that they won’t be believed, or that they will be harmed and ridiculed for coming forward.

In my day-to-day practice, it isn’t my process to talk about politics. Clients may bring up a political subject at their own discretion, but as a therapist, I do not lead with any subject of my own. It is, however, part of my practice to welcome and invite anyone who wishes to talk about sexual assault, harassment, and abuse, to listen empathetically, to believe the victim, and to discuss pathways for action, for healing, and for hope.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault or think you have been the victim of sexual assault and are not sure, I urge you to seek help.

Call 1-800-656-4673
Available 24 hours everyday
This is a free and confidential service.
2.  Seek follow up therapy.
You can find a qualified therapist in  your area to talk to about what happened and what you can do in the wake of a sexual assault, or about a past incident of sexual assault.
3. Talk to a trusted friend who will listen. 
A trusted friend can help support you and provide needed care in the wake of an assault. A friend can also accompany you if/when you seek medical treatment and contact the police for your statement. In the midst of fear and trauma, having a friend to rely on is essential.

4. You don’t have to struggle alone.

Due in part to the #metoo movement and other emerging stories of sexual harassment, there are more options available to gather with others  who have experienced similar events. Whether sexual assault and abuse happened to you as a choir boy in the church or in privacy of a consensual moment that turned into a non-consensual one, there are organizations that host groups for the victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse who meet in nearly every city across America.


Post-Script: I could write an entire chapter or two on the topic of shame and its place in stifling memory, confession, and heightening or diminishing emotional display, but then I digress.

At Seattle Direct Counseling, we have a simple motto: we’re here to help.

    September 2018 Address from SDC

    Fall 2018 Address from SDC | Fall | What’s New

    Fall is almost here! Here is my Fall 2018 address to keep you in touch with everything happening at SDC. Photo by Pixabay.

    Outside my window, the leaves area already showing the colors of the impending Fall season. Brilliant yellows, screaming vermillion and reds, and toasted browns dapple my neighborhood.

    By now, the kids are back to school, work is humming along, and summer vacation memories are washed and stored away. Now what?

    Traditionally, I like to use the weeks just before the advent of Fall to do a check in with self, spirit, relationship, and end-of-year goals.

    Questions to ask:

    • How are you doing
    • Where are you with Contentment, Satisfaction, and Role
    • How are you contributing to your happiness and the happiness of others around you
    • What progress have you made towards end-of-year goals, and what adjustments do you want to make now to steer closer to them

    As I sat on a boulder admiring the view of Lake Moraine in Banff, Canada, I can tell you that I had no such questions in my mind. I was just taking in the view and soaking up every moment outdoors. Yet, in quiet moments in the evening after darkness had fallen, I asked these questions and took a few notes, knowing that I would be thinking about Fall 2018 and what I am bringing back to Seattle Direct Counseling.

    Based on conversations from 2017 to present, here is what you can expect from SDC:

    • Professional online counseling services to help meet the needs of busy people and remote-access clients
    • One day per week access to F2F counseling sessions to help local and traveling clients receive personalized care and urgent mental health care when needed
    •  Certified triathlon coaching  (study to begin Sept 2018)
    • Focused writing on food and wellness for those with autoimmune disease and food allergies and intolerances

    Fall marks an influx of new clients seeking to address both stubborn, hurtful patterns of thinking and behaving, and recent transitions that have created challenges and barriers across every area of life.

    If you are looking to start therapy, or need a coach for detailed how-to’s, Fall is a great time to set counseling or coaching in motion. Please see my hours and Connect Directly page to get the ball rolling for you.

      Addictive Behavior to Smart Phones

      smartphones| addiction| behavior 

      person holding phone and texting oudoors
      Are you addicted to the way you interact with your smart phone or device? Find out more about why this matters to you, your health, and your relationships.

      After reading Mel Robbin’s book, “The Five Second Rule”, I decided to check out her free 31 day online mentoring program offered to anyone who purchased her book. For me, the online mass coaching program, though generalized, is a great way for a new author to display the depth of her knowledge and the power of her research. I signed up, hit, “Submit,” and then I admit, I didn’t expect to be challenged.

      Yet within the first seven days, Mel’s program had me at, “Put your cellphone away from your nightstand.” In essence, she had pointed out a significant flaw in my own behavioral routines and subroutines. Within a few hours, I was aware that I was more addicted to the way I had coded my own behavior around these fascinating devices. And that addicted behavior was controlling me more than I was controlling them.

      Now, before you close this page because something in your brain is telling you that you don’t need to hear a message that may ask you to change something you don’t want to change, please do yourself a favor. Take a deep breath, call bullocks on your own Resistance, and keep reading to the very end.

      Continue reading “Addictive Behavior to Smart Phones”