The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) works every day to prevent and address sexual violence in Colorado communities. But it is impossible to do this work without acknowledging the mental health effects sexual violence has on survivors. But you, and all of us, can help reduce the negative mental health outcomes of sexual violence survivors.
Mental Health and Trauma
Sexual assault is a traumatic event. And the brain responds to trauma in many ways, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, 94% of women who are raped experience PTSD symptoms in the two weeks following the assault and 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide. Considering there are more than 460,000 sexual violence victims in the United States each year, we can’t ignore the ways sexual violence is contributing to our mental health crisis.
Throughout the state of Colorado, there are hundreds of advocates trained to support sexual violence survivors as they navigate the physical, legal, emotional, and mental effects of sexual violence. CCASA has helped train many of these advocates through our Sexual Assault Advocate Training Institute and other programs. But not all survivors turn to sexual violence agencies to cope. Survivors are more likely than the general public to use drugs and struggle with addiction.
How You Can Help
Preventing sexual violence is a crucial step to improving Colorado’s overall mental health. CCASA encourages you to explore the role you can play in addressing sexual violence and improving the mental health of our state. Here are some things you can do:
- Start by believing: if a survivor discloses their assault, believe them. You can visit YouHaveTheRightCO.org to learn how to best support friends and family as they navigate the aftermath of violence. Positive reactions from loved ones can play a major role in reducing negative mental health outcomes for survivors.
- Get involved: reach out to your local sexual assault agency to find out if they have learning opportunities or volunteer openings. You can become a safe person for survivors as they seek support after traumatic events.
- Support CCASA: your generosity helps CCASA provide dozens of survivors-centered, trauma-informed trainings a year. These ensure Colorado advocates have the knowledge they need to adequately support survivors. Trainings are often held in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.