Many times, when we think of the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), we imagine a war-torn veteran coming back from years of serving valiantly overseas. Our minds might even drift to the survivor of a car accident, afraid to get back in the driver’s seat and complete necessary travel. Rarely do we consider another silent population of those diagnosed with PTSD— survivors of sexual assault and violence.

PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It affects individuals from all walks of life, including survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other forms of violence. Understanding PTSD and its effects is essential for creating a supportive environment for survivors and fostering healing and resilience.

June is National PTSD Awareness Month, so we must start by acknowledging that women are twice as likely to develop PTSD than their male counterparts. In consideration of the fact that one in five women are sexually assaulted while attending college, it is without precedent to say it’s a larger issue than many people realize, including survivors. Over 90% of sexual assault victims don’t report the assault’s occurrence. Yet, 81% of women reported short or long-term effects, such as PTSD, from the experience.

For survivors of violence, safety is paramount. The trauma of experiencing violence can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of security and well-being. As advocates for survivors, it is crucial to prioritize safety in all aspects of their lives, including physical, emotional, and psychological safety. This may involve creating safety plans, seeking support from trusted individuals or organizations, and accessing shelters or hotlines. We must amplify the resources and options students have on college campuses.

Self-care is equally vital for survivors on their journey toward healing and recovery. Taking care of one’s physical and emotional well-being can help individuals cope with the effects of trauma and regain a sense of control over their lives. Self-care practices may include engaging in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction, seeking therapy or counseling, practicing mindfulness or meditation, and connecting with supportive communities or peer groups.

During National PTSD Awareness Month and beyond, let us reaffirm our commitment to promoting safety, healing, and resilience for survivors of trauma. By raising awareness, offering support, and prioritizing self-care, we can create a more compassionate and inclusive society where survivors feel empowered to seek help and reclaim their lives.