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Sexual Assualt And Mental Health: Andrea Kassteen’s Story

It’s the last day of May and Mental Health Awareness Month, so I decided that I wanted to do something special. Today, I have Andrea Kassteen as a guest sharing her story on sexual assault, the effect it had on her mental health, and how to go from letting it control you to getting your voice back. If you are a victim of sexual assault, please know that you’re not alone. Without further ado, here’s Andrea with her story.

*Trigger warning: sexual assault and self-harm*

As a victim of sexual assault, I’ve been plagued with depression.  Days without a shower. Nights without sleep. Hours of endless crying mixed with anger.  Bouts of self-harm. Fear and anxiety kept me uncomfortable in my own skin. There were episodes of being horrifyingly alone in a crowded room. 

Realizing that you need help to get to the other side of this will be the greatest gift that you give to yourself. Working on this alone can set you up for a breakdown, depression, anger, and rage. There needs to be a person that can guide you to the other side.

Over the years I’ve gotten help to heal the wounds to my heart, to my spirit, and to my soul.  Writing letters to my abuser definitely helped me get to the other side of the pain. I was able to express my anger, fear, and my rage. Sadness was filled within my heart. Then, I started taking back my power. I was able to bring my voice to the event. I was able to express my side of what happened. I wasn’t just the powerless kid on the other end receiving the abuse, the hurt, and the trauma. A trauma that would penetrate every area of my life.

Another thing that I did to heal and recover was to give my abuser a name. Too many times we say “our attacker”, “our abuser”, “that person”, or “that man/woman”. However, when we give them a name it humanizes them as opposed to making them a monster or some ominous creature, and it almost puts them on the same level as us. This empowers us to get to the other side of healing. We cannot defeat a monster, but we can defeat another person and diminish the power they have over us.

Another way to recover is by acknowledging that the sexual assault or abuse was merely an event in our lives. It doesn’t have to consume our entire existence or be the sum of our being. It truly is just a moment in time. This takes the power away from what happened. It removes the sting out of the event and makes it less powerful, less traumatic, and less awful. You will be able to categorize it and put it in its place to deal with it and let it go. You won’t forget you have not had a lobotomy, but you’ll be able to recognize it for the microcosm in time and that it’s due to a certain reflection. When we give it the timeframe that it’s due, we’re able to let it go just like you would a divorce or a broken friendship. These things don’t take up every moment of your day. It is the same principle.

The greatest form of healing will come when we can forgive ourselves because so many times, we do not realize that we have somehow blamed ourselves. We ask ourselves “What was I wearing?”, “Was I drunk?”, “Did I lead them on?” or “Did I send mixed signals?” No means no.  You must forgive yourself. I implore you, do not take responsibility for someone else’s horrific and criminal behavior because there’s nothing you did to bring this about. There isn’t anything you could’ve done to change this from happening. Do not carry this burden because it isn’t yours. It’s your responsibility to heal and to recover.

Another very important way to heal and recover is to report it. Tell school officials, local authorities, or a trusted family member. As a survivor of sexual assault, I’m emotionally well. My mental health was my priority, which allowed me to seek help and live my life out loud. The fear and shame that covered me like a comfortable blanket are gone. Today, I’m covered in a zest for life by turning my horrific experiences into catapulting events into wellness… not just for me but for the masses.

About Andrea Kassteen

Andrea is a 52-year-old recovering mother who no longer lives in fear and shame. Today, as a Certified Life Coach, she helps others become fierce and comfortable in their own skin. If you would like to contact Andrea, please take a look at her contact information below.

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