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.
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.