Something that comes up often from people who call or come to BARCC is a feeling of uncertainty about whether the services available from BARCC are really for them.
Sometimes they worry that their experience was so long ago that the hurt they're feeling today must be less important than the hurt of someone whose experience was more recent. Other times, people who are the parents, or partners, or friends of someone who's been harmed wonder if they deserve to get services. Countless people who haven't figured out the words that feel right to describe an experience ask us if it's OK to be calling with questions.
Ashley, over at Blog a la Cart, wrote a post about seeking support after a trauma in her life. While her experience was not of sexual violence, it beautifully articulates some of the struggle and relief that can surround getting help:
I’ve found people’s reactions to my candor about seeking mental and emotional counseling and support troubling. Many act surprised (appalled?) that I’m so comfortable openly talking about my need for therapy and even the support of pharmaceuticals to manage the anxiety and fear that took hold of me in the aftermath. Others tell me how “brave” I am to have gotten myself help so immediately. People shouldn’t be surprised. They shouldn’t think I am brave. I sought the medical help I needed when I was not feeling safe. When I was not myself. Just like I would for a broken limb or a sore tooth. My mental and emotional health is tied up in my physical well-being. There was no way I was going to let my anxiety get control of me, and impact not only my everyday, but my family’s, my children’s.
I deserved to feel safe. I deserved to get help.
We all do.
And we shouldn’t be fearful. And we shouldn’t shame those that need the support of mental health services, whatever the reason. And we shouldn’t judge or cast doubt on those that recognize when they are struggling and make use of the resources at hand to feel more themselves. To feel better. Safer.
I am so grateful that I no longer wake up in the night screaming. That I no longer relive flashback after flashback. That I’m not consumed by What Ifs. While the experience has changed me forever, I am feeling more in balance. I am finding my way back to me. And I know, with continued help and support, I’ll get there.
What we always say is, there's a very wide circle of people who are harmed when sexual violence happens, and sometimes the hurt or the disruption from that harm continues for a long time. And anyone in that circle deserves to feel better. Even if what we have to offer isn't quite the right fit, we're always happy to connect you with something that might work better.