Rape Victims Find Healing in Telling Story

By Masimba Biriwasha | OpEd | January 02, 2013 | @ChiefKMasimba

The healing power of telling your story while receiving loving attention is probably one of the most portent forms of medication under the sun. But can it heal the trauma of rape?

According to a recent study reported in the Washington Post, telling stories can help rape victims heal. The study says that reliving the rape experience through repeated telling of the story of the rape experience can help victims to overcome psychological distress.

“The results are the first evidence that the same kind of “exposure therapy” that helps combat veterans haunted by flashbacks and nightmares also works for traumatized sexually abuses teens with similar symptoms,” the Washington Post reported.

According to the report, simply offering victims comforting words and encouraging traumatized girls to forget their ordeals is not helpful because it lets symptoms fester.

University of Pennyslavia psychologist, Edna Foa, who developed a “two-part treatment known as prolonged exposure therapy which involves having patients repeatedly tell their stories and then visit places that remind them of their trauma” said that many of the patients are relieved that somebody wants to hear their stories.

Foa exposed sixty one girls ages 13 to 18 who had been raped or sexually abuses randomly assigning them to 14 weeks of counseling or prolonged exposure therapy.

The idea is that by telling and retelling their trauma, victims can developed a psychological distance from the real event and develop a sense of closure as opposed to repression of negative memory.

“They get a new perspective of what happened. They get used to thinking and talking about the memory and realizing that it was in the past, that its not in the present anymore,” said Foa.

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