The following post shares the story of Sonia, a survivor who has called BARCC’s hotline and come to BARCC for individual and group counseling. *Content note: personal story of sexual violence, suicidal thoughts
For Sonia LaRock and a huge number of other survivors, rape was not a one-time experience.
You might think that once someone is a victim of sexual violence, they are less likely to be assaulted again.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
When Sonia was 16, her high school boyfriend raped her at a hotel. She blocked the memory out of her mind to avoid dealing with it. Then, more than 10 years later, Sonia was raped again. A man that she’d gone on a date with drove her to a junkyard late at night.
After the second attack, Sonia reported the incident to the police. The detective suggested she go to the hospital to be examined. One of the nurses in the ER told her about the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC).
It wasn’t until a couple of months after the second assault that the magnitude of everything Sonia had been through really hit her.
Sonia called BARCC’s hotline. “I needed to get help or I would have committed suicide,” she says.
Sonia received individual counseling at BARCC.
In her words: “Sharon [Sonia’s counselor] helped me process so many issues. She really made a difference in my life. I have a hard time imagining my healing without her.”
Sonia was also part of a 12-week group counseling program with other survivors.
In these groups, survivors work through the many common struggles they face. The sessions helped Sonia realize she wasn’t alone.
“Everyone in the group was going through the same things I was,” she said. “I felt normal.”
“I exceeded the typical number of counseling sessions, with all that was going on, but BARCC never turned me away,” Sonia said. “They were always there for me.”
While seeing Sharon at BARCC for counseling, the unthinkable happened. Sonia suffered a third assault. This time by a police officer she had formerly dated. When she said that she didn’t want to have sex, he said that she “owed him.”
Sonia remembers feeling like she should have been able to do something to stop it, that it was somehow her fault that this had happened multiple times.
“After my assaults, I felt scared, numb, and like my being had been stripped from me. I was scared to be in a relationship. I had a difficult time trusting anyone. I had flashbacks and anxiety attacks at work. I found it very difficult to stand up for myself. I felt that I did not deserve to be loved and respected.”
“Today, I am feeling a lot stronger. I am happy and whole.”
BARCC offers free and confidential services to survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones. Learn more about our services or call our 24-hour hotline at 800-841-8371.