May 3rd, 2011
04:44 PM ET

Speaking about sexual assaults as a recovery step

Advocates for women and survivors of sexual abuse are commending  CBS reporter, Lara Logan for speaking out about her attack.

Sexual assaults are often cloaked in secrecy and shame. Having a high-profile person speak about sexual abuse helps destigmatize it for others and could help in recovery, the advocates said.

On February 11, Logan was attacked, stripped and assaulted by a mob in Tahrir Square following the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  She spoke about the incident on-camera for the first time on "60 Minutes” that aired Sunday.

Logan had covered the events for about an hour without any trouble. Then, an Arabic-speaking member of Logan's crew abruptly said she needed to leave.

"I was told later that they were saying, 'Let's take her pants off,'" said Logan, 40, about men in the crowd around her.  She was separated from her crew and left to hostile crowd of men.

For the next 40 minutes, Logan was beaten with flagpoles, sticks, as men pulled her hair, tore at her limbs, groped and clawed her.  Her clothing was shredded.  She was later shielded by a group of Egyptian women until the military intervened.  Immediately after the assault, CBS and Logan issued a statement that she had “suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.”

Logan told the New York Times that the statement “didn’t leave me to carry the burden alone, like my dirty little secret, something that I had to be ashamed of.”

There’s a misconception that victims of sexual assault “are to blame for some or all of the sexual assault because of what you were wearing, or because you had been drinking, because she did something that put her in harm’s way,” Amber Harris, director of development at Women’s Resource Center told HLN.

“We live in a culture that insists on blaming the rape victim for the assaults that happens to them,” she said. “A lot of rape victims begin to internalize that.”

This can make the healing experience very difficult because many can't talk about it, she said.

By having a highly visible survivor such as Logan speaking publicly about what happened, it helps other women who’ve been victimized know they are not alone and it is not something they should be ashamed.

“If people aren’t willing to say ‘This is happening and this is not OK," it will continue,” said Jennifer Marsh, director of the hotline at Rape Abuse Incest National Network.

Survivors who voluntarily speak about their experience find it “empowering,” she said.

“It allows them to form a narrative of what happened to them.  By forming that narrative, it helps them clarify what the experience meant to them and doing so, it helps them move forward in recovery process.”

This is a difficult step towards recovery.

“A lot of times speaking about it, takes them out of the shadows and brings them into the light that can be discussed,” said Marsh.

People who’ve been through such an experience should seek support from their loved ones, organizations, hotlines where they feel safe asking questions and talking about what happened.  It’s also important to connect to long-term support, Marsh said.

Rape Abuse Incest National Network

24-hour hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Oh Really

    "Survivors who voluntarily speak about their experience find it “empowering,” she said."
    If "speaking out" helps someone, great. Personally, IT WOULD NOT ASSIST ME IN THE LEAST.

    May 5, 2011 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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