Kelly Slater, Casey Smith and Matthew Huffman were all guests in October on KBIA's Intersection. You can here that longer interview hosted by KBIA reporter Kassidy Arena – here.
Kelly and Casey are both college students – Kelly is an online student at Arizona State University and Casey is a student at the University of Missouri, and Matthew is with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
They spoke about resilience after sexual assault and how to rebuild oneself after experiencing trauma.
Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org.
Kelly: It definitely was hard. It definitely didn't happen overnight. It took a lot of years to rebuild the trust that I had lost and somebody that, you know, I had really trusted and cared for, and not in the sense that I had to rebuild my trust for that person.
But I had to rebuild my trust and other relationships that I felt like I had lost. So resiliency is something that I'm still working on, you know, and it's something that was hard to do. But I feel like just pushing forward and choosing forgiveness every single day is something that has really helped me in the long run.
Casey: It's not something like, "Oh, like cancer, you're in remission, and you're done with it." It's something that every day you have to fight for, and you have to choose, because it's so easy to slip back into it for me.
I definitely fell into the depression after I was assaulted, and I kind of lost the sense of who I was. And I tried to be that person I was before I was assaulted, but I couldn't be that person. Because that person didn't go through that trauma, I had to completely start over and find out who I was, again after this.
I wish I would have gone to counseling, because that's something I've honestly never tried. You know, most people didn't find out about my assault until like a year after it happened. And like you saying, “it's the silent killer.”
Totally in me, like, I definitely buried it deep down. And I feel that that's why it takes it took me even longer to heal. So I feel that if I would have had counseling, it would have been something that I would have been able to come back faster from.
Kelly: Right. And it's hard sometimes to get counseling, because it's something that you don't want to talk about. It's something that you do want to just like buried inside and just kind of pretend like it never happened. But I think that it's definitely necessary in the process of healing to get it all out on the table.
And I think that a resource that would have been really helpful for me was just to be around other peers and people that have also gone through the same thing because that experience can be very isolating and you can feel like, you're the only person that went through it, even though the statistics show otherwise.
When you're in that mindset, you're just like, “wow, this only happened to me, I'm the only person who's dealt with it.” So, having a support group of people who had also been through my same experiences would have been really helpful for me, I think.
Matthew: So here in Columbia, for example, on campus, we have the RSVP Center, the MU Counseling Center, and then for the larger Columbia community we have True North.
The one thing I would add to that, though, is something that Casey and Kelly both mentioned, of not feeling comfortable talking about it at first, and so, a major resource is for friends and family and people in your support group, to feel comfortable talking about it. To know about resources. To start by believing and just saying “I believe you” and “I'm really sorry that this happened? How can I help?”
We know that oftentimes, your peer support group are the first people who survivors end up talking to and so, that's why it's really important that we we know how to support our friends and family who have experienced trauma, and that we do start by believing and and offering support there first.