Trigger warning: This post discusses sexual violence. If you need assistance, please visit Crisis Text Line, the National Eating Disorder Association or the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
What does trauma have to do with an eating disorder?
This is the question I asked myself over and over again, but it’s a question we don’t seem to talk about.
What did my sexual assault have to do with my eating disorder? I struggled to put the pieces together. I poured over scholarly literature, using my school’s online library to find any research I could that examined the connection between rape and eating disorders.
But the literature was scarce, and even more scarce was the information online that examined the intersection between trauma and eating disorders. The discussions about these issues existed in separate spheres. Sexual assault advocacy seemed to center around helping survivors report the assault, seeking some sort of justice for the atrocity we’ve experienced.
But, to me, the onus is still on the survivor to report–and the shame I felt, the powerlessness, was exacerbated by the feeling that I was supposed to be fighting a battle against my assailant–not a war against myself.
One month ago today, my partner Rich and I stood under a big tent during the loveliest late-summer rain storm and did a really wonderful thing: We got married.
Our wedding was beautiful and special and fun and silly — all the things we had hoped it would be during the months of planning. We stood under the alter in front of our friends and family, and I promised all the typical things you promise in your wedding vows — to love him and support him and take care of him when he’s sick, etc.
But there was one thing I added that wasn’t so typical: that I would take care of myself and my mental health, too.
This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.
Please Note: The following post mentions childhood sexual abuse.
From a very young age, I had to fend for myself and protect those who were around me, whether it was my little brother from my mother’s beatings or my cousin from my step-grandfather’s sexual abuse.
I was never looking out for me.
I never had anyone to turn to. In school I was bullied by so many people including people I called my friends. Even my teachers bullied me because in their minds I wasn’t “smart” enough.
I would go home and be abused whether it was sexually, physically or mentally. I would go through everything, and afterward I would pretend I was okay.
Should Suicidal Students Be Forced to Leave Campus?
Two years ago, a Princeton student was not allowed to return to school after a suicide attempt. Today, students are afraid to go to the campus counseling center for fear of being forced to leave. Princeton does not yet have a chapter of Active Minds.
VA Expanding Services to Victims of Sexual Assault
The US Department of Veterans Affairs is now offering mental health benefits to veterans regardless of whether they were on active duty or inactive duty when sexually assaulted or sexually harassed. Ruth Moore has been advocating for this change that allows National Guard members and reservist to receive the necessary treatment.
Welcome to the Winter 2014 Stress Less Week blog series! Learn more about how to host a Stress Less event on your campus.
You’re a mental health advocate. That’s a tough job with a lot of responsibilities. When you “come out,” so-to-speak, as someone who struggles with mental illness or advocates on behalf of those who do, you open yourself up to the very likely possibility that other people will want to talk to you about their own struggles.
On one hand, that’s a really beautiful thing. It speaks volumes to the importance of story-telling and bearing our truths so that others may also come forward.
But there’s a downside to being so open and accessible about these very tough issues. You have to know and accept your limits as a person. And I struggled for a long time before I finally realized that.