Why the ongoing news cycle is triggering to victims of sexual assault

"It's a battle every day to be a rape survivor and to live with the memory."

Hadas Kuznits
September 27, 2018 - 3:45 pm
Hundreds of protesters rally against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 24, 2018. They protested for a #BelieveSurvivors Walkout against Kavanaugh, who has been accused by at least two women of sexual assault.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — For Liz Spikol, a Philadelphia-based journalist and sexual assault survivor, the ongoing conversation around sexual assault feels incredibly personal to her.

"Just to have the whole culture arguing, it feels like they're arguing about me," she admitted.

In the era of the #MeToo movement, it's been an extremely triggering week for survivors, she said. Bill Cosby was sentenced to prison for an act of sexual assault. U.S. Supreme Court judge nominee Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, claiming an alleged sexual assault Christine Blasey Ford says he committed did not happen.

As a result, Spikol says the news cycle impacts her mental health.

It's taken her decades to fully process and come to terms with what happened to her, and it's not easy to discuss.

"Because I don't want to have to fight to prove that I was raped. I'm not interested in that battle. It's a battle every day to be a rape survivor and to live with the memory," she said.

"If somebody says, 'My dad was a veteran and he didn't talk about the war for 30 years.' We say, 'Wow, that's really amazing that he could talk about it now.' But when a woman has survived a sexual assault, we seem to want to hold her to account."

Dr. Astra Czerny with the Thomas Jefferson University trauma counseling program said those kinds of memories are commonly accompanied by an emotion that is particularly debilitating.

"It's really, really common for survivors of sexual assault to feel a tremendous amount of shame around what happened to them," she explained.

"And it seems especially unjust that shame should visit us so persistently when we were victims," Spikol continued.

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Listen to the full interview with Liz Spikol and KYW Newsradio's Hadas Kuznits about sexual assault below.