And a Retreat
by Jenni Kay Long, LCSW
This blog post contains a story of surviving sexual assault. It could be triggering. If you are not in an emotional space to read such a story, please skip this post and instead check out our upcoming retreat information by clicking here.
When I was twenty-two years old I was looking for work with my new-ish degree and signed up with a social worker temp agency. The agency required that I get a physical, which is pretty standard.
I didn’t have a primary care doctor at the time because I was new to the city so I looked up a nearby family doctor and scheduled an appointment. I showed up without much thought about the appointment as I was mostly focused on my worry about getting a job and paying my bills on time.
It had been a long time since my last physical so I didn’t really remember what all was involved, but… I knew that what the doctor started doing to me was not normal. I got scared and tried to move out of his reach, but that didn’t work. I was so scared that I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t say “NO!” or yell “Help!” I was trapped.
When the worst of it was over, I sat up - as instructed - and my nose started pouring blood from the stress and terror of what had just happened. The doctor just looked at me and sort of laughed.
Somehow I drove home without crashing into anything and sat down beside my husband, my body shaking and my face covered in tears. He asked, “What happened?”
It took me awhile to be able to form words, but eventually I told him.
After I was settled and stable, my husband went to confront the doctor.
The doctor’s response was: “I’m sorry your wife is so sensitive.”
It’s taking a lot of restraint to not fill the rest of this page with three thousand cuss words as my mind and body fill with rage remembering that doctor’s cruel actions and cruel remark.
Evenso, I wasn’t able to fully recognize the extent of that trauma… the name of that trauma... until a couple years later when I was at new hire orientation for my new job at a domestic violence shelter. As we poured through definitions, I finally realized:
I was raped. By a doctor. And he said I was just being too sensitive. I believed him.
From the moment that the trauma took place until that moment in training, I had been struggling with night terrors, body memories, and panic attacks. I had also been drowning in feelings of shame and was somewhat convinced that the incident was my fault.
But then I started calling the experience by its name: Rape. Sexual Assault.
And I learned that it wasn’t my fault. And I learned that I wasn’t alone.
I committed to finding healing… mostly through a combination of being an emotional wreck + therapy + yoga + acupuncture. I cried more than I smiled and spent about 80% of my waking life dissociated.
Slowly though, I found my recovery and started to feel whole again. I learned a lot about how trauma affects the mind, the body, and interpersonal relationships. I stopped daydreaming about suicide and reconnected to my vocational passion as a social worker.
It was then that I dedicated myself to taking good care of myself while also supporting others on their journeys toward recovery and wholeness.
Fast forward eight years later. The #metoo movement just took social media by storm. A long time overdue and so so needed. It also left many of us survivors reeling with old memories and reignited a lot of trauma symptoms such as body memories, panic attacks, nightmares, and flashbacks.
So I’m offering a wellness retreat. A chance to step away from social media and into real life community so that we can learn together, rest together, and find healing together. The day will include trauma education, mindfulness education, poetry, and practical self care such as auricular acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. We won’t be going into the details of our trauma stories, but instead will learn how to take good care of ourselves with mindfulness and compassion, navigate the challenges in our relationships, and step into our own sense of strength and empowerment while connecting with new friends.
I’d love for you to join me.
See below for more information and register by sending me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org