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PTSD:

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

 
 

There are more than 3 million US cases per year.
But the most common sufferer may not be who you think.

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The most common cause of PTSD isn’t the violence of war. 
It’s violence against women.

 
 
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It’s women in Hollywood. It’s freshmen in college. It’s #MeToo.

At a time when so many sexual assault survivors are coming forward to be heard, the goal of this campaign is to give them the resources to be healed. #HealMeToo.

 
 
 
 

Sexual assault has serious long-term consequences. These are our stories about the symptoms we deal with, the triggers we face, and the advice we can share.

 
 
  • Last summer, I had my first full blown PTSD attack, 12 years after my assault. I was triggered by an event I didn’t even know I could be triggered by. In a matter of seconds, I began sobbing uncontrollably, gasping for air, and panic and fear paralyzed my body.
    — L.I.
  • I couldn’t stop thinking about the assault and would feel the assault in my body as if it were happening again.
    — C.M.K.
  • I cannot and will not watch anything that has scenes of sexual abuse or rape in it.
    — L.A.
  • You’re not a burden to anyone because of the reasons you suffer from PTSD. I found that when I kept my feelings to myself, I suffered deeply, but when I talked things out, honestly, I felt better. Most importantly, take time for yourself to heal.
    — C.A.
  • It’s been almost a decade, but I still jump when the door creaks or the storm outsides lashes rain at my window. I remind myself that it’s a way of my body protecting myself and it will pass.
    — S.H.
  • Deal with each emotion as it comes. When I'm sad I allow myself to be in that space or I talk to friends who understand. I also avoid things that are triggers because I cry a lot. Therapy also helps but the healing depends solely on you.
    — T.S.L.
  • My stories live in my body. I have starved myself for years trying to escape, but I now know the only way to heal is to feel the feels and use my voice. It was not my fault. It was not your fault. Together, we will rise from the ashes and be stronger than before.
    — W.G.
  • Don’t underestimate the effect of sexual harassment. Don’t tell yourself others had it so much harder and try to push through it. Sexual harassment causes anxiety, fear and even rage. Reach out for help.
    — K.G.
  • I have PTSD. I suffered flashbacks, anxiety attacks, depression and awful nightmares. I'm 53 now, and still have issues. But it does get better. I still have the occasional nightmare and anxiety attack. But not every day. The only advice I have, is don't stay silent. Sometimes the consequences are huge, but until you say it out loud, you can't begin to heal.
    — T.K.
  • You’re not a burden to anyone because of the reasons you suffer from PTSD. I minimized the issue because I wasn’t sure if what happened to me would be taken seriously or worst of all, if I’d even be believed. When I finally told someone, I was met with empathy and support and continued to receive that support from people close to me such as my best friend and my brother. I learned that people who love you actually feel honored rather than bothered when you reach out to them for help.
    — C.S.
  • Ask for help. Don't try to deal with it alone. Find a counselor. Join a support group. Tell a friend or family member. In addition, something that has really helped me over the past few years has been yoga and meditation. It gave me a space to feel reconnected to and in control of my body, taught me how to breathe to calm me down during panic and anxiety attacks, and gave me a safe space when I was feeling vulnerable and alone.
    — L.G.
  • You have to take things one day at a time and go at your own pace, find what works for you, find healthy coping mechanisms that will keep you sane.
    — L.P.
  • For me, regaining control of my body was crucial to my healing process. I started doing yoga regularly, and did it daily the first few months after the assault since this was definitely the darkest period. Yoga not only helped me feel fit and relaxed, but it taught me deep breathing exercises and focuses on connecting with your body through different movement I also started journaling and expressing myself that way.
    — C.K.
 

Share how you have dealt with PTSD and offer advice to fellow survivors to help them heal.

 
 

Join the conversation with  
#HealMeToo

 
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About NOW-NYC 

NOW-NYC works to promote reproductive rights, secure women’s economic empowerment, and end discrimination and violence against women. Through our Take Rape Seriously NOW Initiative, we work to help survivors of drug-facilitated sexual assault, to strengthen policy that impacts survivors, to defend the Violence Against Women Act, and to challenge rape culture.