Twenty-one-year-old actress Abigail Breslin recently revealed that she had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) for the past year-and-a-half as a result of being raped. Her disclosure comes after she put a short poem about consent in relationships on Instagram in commemoration of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
She was criticised for not reporting the rape at the time it occurred, but she responded by saying there were several reasons behind her decision: “First off, I was in complete shock and total denial. I didn’t want to view myself as a ‘victim’, so I suppressed it and pretended it never happened. Second of all, I was in a relationship with my rapist and feared not being believed. I also feared that if my case didn’t lead anywhere, he would still find out and hurt me even more. Thirdly, I knew how hurt my family and friends would be after finding out and I didn’t want to put them (through) that.” She hit back at her critics and said that ALL rapes mattered, not only the ones that were reported.
Although she has made significant progress since the rape happened, she still suffers from the symptoms of PTSD: “I still have flashbacks, I still get nightmares, I still jump when somebody touches me unexpectedly, even if it’s my best friend tapping me on the shoulder.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?
People with PTSD, like Abigail, suffer from flashbacks of the event, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, and anxiety. They may also have feelings of isolation, irritability, and guilt. People living with PTSD also find it difficult to concentrate and sleep, and very often suffer from severe insomnia.
What Causes PTSD?
There are several causes of PTSD. Among them are:
- being involved in a serious car accident
- surviving a serious assault such as a mugging or a sexual assault
- being exposed to prolonged sexual abuse, severe neglect, or ongoing violence
- when you witness a violent death, you may also develop PTSD
- people who are involved in military combat often have PTSD
- hostages also often have PTSD
- survivors of terrorist attacks will also often develop PTSD
- severe floods, earthquakes, or tsunamis or any other kind of natural disaster can also lead to PTSD.
One in every three individuals that experience one or more of these occurrences will develop symptoms of PTSD. It is not clear why not everyone develops the condition.
Can PTSD Be Treated?
At Recovery Lighthouse, we have expert therapists and counsellors who will assist you in recovering from PTSD. It is a treatable condition, and there are many ways of addressing it:
- The first is watchful waiting. This is a method where symptoms are monitored to see how these increase or decrease in severity without the benefit of treatment.
- The second is a talk therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a focus on trauma.
- Thirdly, you may be prescribed antidepressants to help you cope with the severity of the symptoms.
Each case of PTSD is unique, and therefore you are treated as an individual at our recovery clinic. You will participate in individual therapy sessions and may also be included in trauma-specific group and support sessions. We also use other therapies to help you express yourself without feeling threatened. At the same time, you are learning to deal with the trauma that you were exposed to, as well as learning new life skills and coping mechanisms to help you deal with your day-to-day life challenges. You may be on medication for a while as you learn to adjust and take control of the PTSD symptoms. However, your progress will be monitored by a qualified mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, and your medication will be adjusted as your condition either improves or worsens, depending on the progress that you make in therapy.
Recovery Lighthouse offers a 24/7 service and can provide you immediate admittance to our clinic if it is required. Our friendly staff is qualified, skilled and experienced to help and guide you through your recovery process. All you need to do is pick up the phone and give us a call.