Recovery Story: Anonymous

What experience has impacted your mental health?

I am a rape survivor.

How did your family and friends respond to this, and how did that impact your mental health?

My parents and friends did not support me or validate my emotions and pain as someone who was raped. I was instead scolded or ignored, and that took a big toll on my health. I would go into bouts of depression, my anxiety was easily triggered, and I had low self-confidence in myself. All of this lasted for years.

​What effect did your mental health problem or mental illness have on your life?

Not having support for something so traumatic, my depression and low self-confidence prevented me from pursuing my passions and staying true to myself. I limited myself academically, socially, and in other aspects.

What were some of the challenges you faced on a day-to-day basis?

When depression was at its worst, just getting out of bed or leaving home was such a challenge. In terms of being a rape survivor, I had to be passive (at most times) when I heard rape jokes, heard the news about a sexual assault incident, and so on. There were many triggers that I had to walk away from without others knowing why.

What made you decide to get help?

The rape occurred years ago. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I really decided to focus on myself. I talked to counselors, therapists, shaykhs, and close friends about my experience as a survivor. Astounded by the support that I got from these individuals, I realized that I was strong for having gone through something like this, and that the negative reactions I received from my parents were not okay.

What experiences have you had with accessing or receiving care or treatment?

I utilized the mental health services at my university to talk to my counselors and therapists. I also talked to a doctor at my university about my frequent headaches (that were due to stress/anxiety) and she was very informative. The doctor and counselors were very supportive and understanding.
I also got tested for STDs from my doctor back at home. She was very easy to work with and understanding, and took my situation seriously.

What was helpful in supporting your work toward recovery?

Definitely the support of friends and my siblings. They are a huge factor to my recovery, as I would not have made it this far without them. They keep me grounded, and so I can continue focusing on academics, social life, and religion, while healing from rape.

Why is it so important to have an open dialogue about mental health/illness/wellness?

Being Muslim doesn’t make you less of a person. Everyone goes through something that impacts their mental health at some point, and so it is vital to seek help. It’s important that one seeks a counselor or therapist, when needed, in order to assess the issue and accommodate for it.
It’s especially important for Muslims to find the support they need if they are a survivor of rape too. I was quiet about my experience for so many years, and it felt like I was the only Muslim in my community who was suffering when it came to this. It wasn’t until I opened up to my friends that I gained support, and when I opened up on social media, that other Muslims reached out to me personally and told me about their stories as rape survivors.

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