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Donna’s Story: You are Never Alone and it is Not Your Fault

Donna suffered recurring, traumatic memories of her sexual assault until she came to our Community Program and found help to cope and overcome.

*Warning: This story contains details of a sexual assault that some readers may find disturbing.

I will never forget the first thing that *Eri said to me when I sat down with her for my first counseling session, ‘You are never alone and it is not your fault’.”

For Donna, those words came at a time when she needed to hear them most. Before meeting Eri, Donna was suffering recurring and traumatic memories of being sexually and physically assaulted around her office building and felt extremely alone.

People respond very differently to trauma caused by sexual assault. Donna responded to the trauma by avoiding the overwhelming negative responses that flooded her thoughts. “I first avoided going to a place like Safe Horizon because I did not want to talk about what I had experienced and how that horrible attack had affected me and affected my life.

Now Donna looks back and is grateful she came to Safe Horizon and met Eri. “Before Safe Horizon, I felt helpless and hopeless. Eri’s words gave me a positive outlook for my future. I have something to look forward to every time we meet because I believe that she is not only a therapist, but also a friend. She is someone who genuinely cares about me as a person.”

Safe Horizon’s Community Programs support, educate, and advocate for victims of crime and abuse including rape and sexual assault.

“Not only a Therapist, but also a Friend”

Donna met Eri at our Brooklyn Community Program. Serving all five boroughs of New York City, each warm and welcoming Community Program supports, educates, and advocates for all victims of crime and abuse, including rape and sexual assault. Since Donna found it difficult to open up, Eri reassured her that she would fully support her. “Eri provided me with tools, resources, and information that helped me cope with my recurring memories of that horrible experience.

As Donna’s story illustrates, recovering from a traumatic event takes time, and everyone heals at his or her own pace. Safe Horizon integrates trauma-informed techniques in working with individuals who encounter all types of crime and violence. One technique our staff utilize is called “grounding,” which was instrumental to Donna’s healing.

Grounding is a technique that allows a person to connect to their physical body and stay in the present moment. It can be used for a person who is dealing with feelings of reliving past trauma to remind them that they are in a safe place. This technique can help individuals cope with the emotional pain caused by something happening in the present that reminds them of the past traumatic event. As Donna says, “Exercises like grounding have changed my life and how I handle uncomfortable, anxious, or depressing situations.

Social workers like Eri work at every Community Program, providing supportive counseling and advocacy services.

From Victim to Victor

Donna says she has re-claimed her positive outlook and is looking forward to moving on with her life. “Since I started talking with Eri, I feel better about myself. I went back to living my life the way it was before I was attacked. I wake up in the morning and plan to do something special for myself every day.”

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* Client names and identifying information have been changed to protect their privacy. Images used are representations of Safe Horizon’s clients.