TW: Sexual violence, PTSD
“I never thought I could be this happy”. That is something I wrote in my journal about 6 months ago, which I tend to write in about 10 times a year.
Now, I live a good life. Healing is a strange thing. I still have all the scars from trauma I have dealt with over the past 21 years, the most prevalent being a rape. But these traumas, these bad memories that most people tend to want to shut out and forget - are now some of my proudest accomplishments. I got myself better and I dealt with these things. They show the resilience, the pain and then the healing - all of which I got myself through. So, I am so bad with words (as you can likely tell) but I wanted to write a piece for Neighbourhood about the healing process after a sexual assault as well as the proposed ACC legislation and how important it is to survivors of sexual violence.
Healing is a tricky thing - it isn’t linear, which is an overused cliche, but it’s overused because it is relatable and it’s true. For me, I sought help for what had happened, about 2 years after the incident. To access the help, I was entitled too (in Aotearoa, anyone who has suffered sexual harm, gets free unlimited counselling to treat that trauma) I had to sit through countless sessions reliving what happened to stranger after stranger who would decide if I was eligible to be helped by them.
Eventually, there was an opening, and I was lucky that I got an amazing counsellor. Unfortunately, though, every time something new popped up, or they wanted a new diagnosis - it was back to the drawing board. I had to sit through sessions with strangers, who would analyse my life over the course of 3 hours - pulling it apart, writing pages and pages of reports, all to decide whether ACC should give me more sessions. Lucky for them, and myself, I wasn’t re-traumatised by dredging it all up, in fact it was kind of healing in a way - I love talking about things, it helps me process it. Every time I would go to one of these sessions - I would buy myself 3 subway cookies afterwards and go home and just sit for a few hours as obviously everything that had happened was not at the forefront of my mind. I know I got off lightly - I know for a lot of people, these 3-hour sessions would mean a PTSD relapse, nightmares, panic attacks, reliving the trauma all over again. It is unfair enough that people need to go through it one time, let alone having to relive it in front of strangers over and over again - just to determine how much counselling they are eligible for. This proposed ACC legislation can make things easier for people to seek help.
So, I ask; when the bill goes to the select committee - submit if you can and if you have capacity! Whether you have experienced the ACC process, or you’ve seen a friend experience it - write Parliament a submission and let’s help change the healing process for all survivors of sexual trauma x
Written by anonymous.