Understanding and Healing Trauma and Sexual Violence - MumsVillage

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Understanding and Healing Trauma and Sexual Violence


A week ago, we had a Psychosocial counsellor speak to our Villagers about Understanding Trauma and Sexual Violence. Mary answered questions from our Villagers, shed light on and offered expert advice on various topics, which we have compiled into this article.


How do you report trauma or sexual violence faced during this quarantine?

Trauma is a mind-body reaction that occurs in response to events that involve threats to one’s physical or psychological well being and lead to feelings of vulnerability and helplessness.

When thinking of trauma reporting think of 3Es Event(s), Experience, and Effect. When a person is exposed to a traumatic or stressful event, how they experience it greatly influences the long-lasting adverse effects of carrying the weight of trauma. What one needs to know is the powerful words/ question the WH questions (who? Where? When? what? And How?).

Trauma reporting provides vital information by taking a bold step of telling the stories during times of trauma, grief or distress. 


Sexual violence is a complicated societal issue since the most question is raised than answers while the victim is tasked in proving beyond reasonable doubts that the crime was committed, this proves difficult since most perpetrators are the ones so dear to victims, and external influence is higher as most try concealing the truth. Reporting trauma is a choice that we all have. One should have the courage of reporting either to a close person to them, or Government agencies or to a therapist as long as their voice is heard and someone will work their case. There are mobile applications (SV-CASESTUDY) which is the easiest when it comes to reporting and a toll-free line (0800730999).


How do you get out of a toxic violent relationship during a pandemic?

It might seem really simple and more of common sense but one needs to start by being brutally honest with yourself, by listening to your body’s intuition, practising being present in your body, tap into your vulnerability on how you feel in the relationship minute by minute. If your relationship is creating constant anxiety, insecurity and draining your energy it’s high time you consider getting out. 


This is because you have so much wisdom in trusting your body, if the relationship is toxic it holds you back from being your best self. Your body is a power source, stop ignoring it. Set boundaries, speak your truth, speak it out, share with a therapist or a trusted person and move into compassion and acceptance.


Any advice on how to know when too much is too much in your relationship, to get out of it?

  • Getting out of it might not solve the problem fully before intervention from experts since someone else will still be the next victim of the circumstance seeking counselling from an expert is the most appropriate thing, however here are the red flags from your partner.
  • Partners threatening to harm you, use violence against you, family or pets like a cat in the house 
  • Partners being too controlling on your behaviours.
  • Being too possessive- checking on you where you are, what you are doing and who you are with. Controlling your moves and getting angry when one doesn’t do what they say or want.
  • Jealousy and rudeness.
  • Accusing you always of being unfaithful or of flirting.
  • The tendency of isolating you from family and friends.
  • Constantly comparing your unfavourably to others. 
  • Putting blame on you for all the happenings.
  • Uttering of words which are not pleasant, using vague language (like you are stupid, no one else will want you even if you leave, you are as good as dead.)
  • Yelling and deliberately breaking things of value to you.
  • Forceful act physical and sexual violence. like engaging in the act of sexual intercourses forcefully.


What are the signs to look out for in a new relationship after getting out of an abusive relationship?

Being too controlling, demanding, isolates you, cruelty to animals, possessiveness, cruelty to children and criticism, the choice of words and apportioning blames.


How can you help a loved one adjust to life after prison especially after the pandemic?

  • Helping them understand culture shock.
  • Seeking therapist support this helps in readjusting to daily’s challenging environment to curb incidence of depression.
  • Encouraging them on setting S.M.A.R.T goals, reaffirming positive thinking and connecting with others.
  • Encouraging them to focus on their ultimate desired outcome rather than their past failures.
  • Encouraging them and assisting them to understand their individuals’ needs and capabilities.
  • Create a loving environment by enhancing social networks which will facilitate the reintegration in the community for them not to fall into recidivist activity due to desperation.


How would you help a friend who is going through domestic violence while pregnant?

Since across all the methods, exposure to violence during pregnancy causes deterioration in the newborn health this is enough motivation to seek help in such a situation. Keeping essential items in a safe place, have a safe place where she can always go be it a shelter or friends house, calling a doctor if one is hurt, encouraging one to report to the government agencies for her security purpose.


Can unwanted pregnancy be a trigger for intimate partner violence? If yes, why?

Yes! To begin with, the mentioned unwanted pregnancy depends with what one is intending to mean by the word “unwanted’ ’However, an unwanted pregnancy is a pregnancy that is unintended this pregnancy occur when no children or no more children were desired or the pregnancy is mistimed occurred earlier than desired, for an instant the pregnancy is unplanned or as a result of an assault itself, this can further complicate feelings about it, at times it’s joyful, scary or awful, or a mixture of all. 


Dissociation during pregnancy therefore can make the survivor feel like something is wrong with them and can add to feelings of being damaged or broken irreparably. This leads to battering beginning to increase during this pregnancy period because the women are more vulnerable and at times dependent on their support system as they get prepared for motherhood. Whereby their focus and attention is more on the unborn being and her wellbeing, it’s during this period when some men feel jealous or angered toward the unborn child because of the diversion of her attention.


Can love blind people in such relationships? How can the blindfolds caused by love come off to help someone come out of a volatile relationship? Should other people say it on their behalf?

Yes as people say love is blind, only for some time. Most people are in a toxic relationship thinking love glues them together. When love folds its hard to see sense on how abusive the relationship is and noticing the red flags. Yes, other supportive system plays a great role in talking it out and this helps in hammering more sense on how violent relationship are hence resulting in better outcomes.


What’s the right way to encourage someone to leave an abusive relationship when they have children and help them see it’s not the end of the world?

The first thing to understand that its never easy, leaving since there is more question than answers. The best way of addressing this issue is letting the victim understand holding into a toxic relationship does more harm to the children than good, and looking at it in a broader perspective the damages caused are permanent even later in life, encouraging them to seek group support of those who have successfully managed to move out of violent relationship this will help them see there is more hope after breakup.


When would couples therapy be appropriate and when would it be counter-indicated in cases of domestic violence?

Couple therapy is only appropriate after one is able to reach out to the survivor, victims, perpetrators and when the parties see the need to reconcile however it a be counter-indicated when there is self-harm that warrants government agency to chip in ( for example death threat, or harm).

How do you create an emotional safety plan for children who have experienced abusive situations in their house?

The first thing to ask is are those children still in or out of the unsafe environment, children suffer most and you can do the following: identify a safe space, training them on how to report their emotions to trusted people, practice self-care consistently. In the case of highly traumatized children seek psychological support, and being their support system holistically.


Does rape happen in marriage? How do you know that’s happened? Is it legal to report the same?

Yes, most rape cases go unreported since they happen in marriage, this happens when one party becomes demanding and controlling and when the question of unwillingness from the other partner any explanation doesn’t make any sense and blame is apportioned to whoever is explaining. Yes, it is legal, though societal barriers and believes act as hindrances when proving the violence and the evidence attached to it, but with the help of a good therapist and legal support its is possible in proving the same.


Can a rebound relationship quicken the healing of a past abusive relationship and still how can you know that you are someone’s rebound?

No, there is high probability of falling into a more abusive relationship, the best way to quicken healing is through seeking personal therapy to help one discover him/herself, his/her priorities and possible outcomes, inner healing is more crucial since it will increase ones inter and intra personal relationship.


How do you handle kids after knowing they know ‘sex’ is? The first time it happened, I canned them and talked to them, made them understand everything, and they promised it will never happen again, only for my niece to find them again. 2 girls aged 5yrs, 4 boys 1 is 5, another one 4 and the other one 7. So when sex happens, two boys pair up.

The children are in an explorative stage( phallic stage) this raises the question on environmental factors and social setting, the reason as to why they promise not to repeat again is because it’s done through punishment, what the parent needs to do is: offer sex education appropriate being non-judgemental, answer every question they would wish to ask, make an arrangement with the parent of the involved kids or else invite a counsellor. Also, evaluate how the environmental or content watched by adults is influencing them as well.

Would you have any tips on how to approach the police when filing a report for sexual violence? Especially in the case of a woman? I’ve heard it can be quite traumatic.

Its highly traumatizing since the wording and how one has handled its a hell of an experience when approaching the police one can be accompanied by a trusted support system who will help you increase your self-confidence and make you know any question asked is aimed at helping you to find justice since the burden of proving holds on you, for the perpetrator to be brought to book. Let logic prevail over emotions and feeling of vulnerability.


How do I file a formal report about sexual violence I’ve experienced?

Start by having the confidence of reporting, ensure that you don’t tamper with the evidence, report to the police gets a p3 form, from there the medical doctor is responsible for seeing the case through by providing written finding, the legal agencies take over to help one see justice prevail.


How can I get a teenager to open up about physical and sexual abuse?

Opening up is a choice, this is highly dependent of rapport, training, and trust the teenager has, therefore referring to a trained therapist will help on offering the best intervention since most abusers are those close to them that’s why they feel intimidated to disclose to familiar faces. 

Many adults today are dealing with unresolved childhood traumas and they don’t even know it. Resources on how to uncover and heal will be highly appreciated.

Psychotherapy and psychoeducation will help into a journey of self-discovery, healing and care this helps in the readjustment and making of the best progress forward.


Are adults with mental illness more susceptible to sexual violence? and if so what are the risks?

Yes? The risk involved range from psychological, physical and emotional, this might provoke aggressive behaviour and projections towards the environment be it self harm( suicidal ideations), criminality, revenge and low self-esteem.


What kind of questions should a man or woman go through with their partner to determine whether they’re being forced into sex or not?

There are no clear guidelines on what to ask, understanding the concept of sex, purpose and marital affairs are key since sex shouldn’t be forceful but mutual agreement, as it is a conjugal right in the marriage, so understanding the red flags ( control, demand, blame, possessiveness) is key


How can I help teenagers deal with the trauma if they are still living under the same roof with the abuser?

Seeking psychosocial intervention from a counsellor for family system intervention. Therapeutic techniques including reframing and defining a problem scenario. Working with interactions by enquiring into family views of the problem and tracking the sequence of behaviours that they use to explain it, mapping the underlying structure to capture the inter-relationship of the member through restructuring and possible intervention and support.

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