Case study: Rachel

My problems started one night when I was out at a house party, one minute I was having fun, and the next it all changed. I was sexually assaulted.

Since that night, I really struggled to move forward and put it all behind me. Even though I reported it and the perpetrator was convicted, I still couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Images of the event would just pop into my head when I was least expecting it. I constantly felt on edge, and, feeling so scared something would happen again, I stopped going out altogether. I was ashamed of what had happened to me and cut myself off from all my friends. I got to the point where I was feeling incredibly low.

After a year of this, I finally found the courage to open up to my closest friend, who came with me to see my GP. My GP was great, she listened to me without judgement and referred me for therapy.

She suggested cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) would be helpful. I was really apprehensive about starting CBT as I didn’t have any idea what to expect.

My therapist was lovely; they were really calm and patient, just letting me go at my own pace. I learnt that what I was going through was PTSD, and that it’s really common. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had experienced this helped me a lot.

Through my therapy I learnt how to control the flashbacks I was having of the event. She taught me to refocus my attention on the here and now when I was reliving that night, and to remind myself that I was not back there again.

My therapist helped me to talk through what had happened to me and realise that it was not my fault. Although this was really scary it really helped me to understand I was not to blame. She helped me gradually get my life back, by slowly starting to go out again and see my friends again without feeling scared.

Although I found therapy difficult at times, it was definitely worthwhile; I don’t feel scared anymore and I’m no longer avoiding situations which used to make me anxious.

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