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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Should I talk to someone if I have thoughts and memories 3 yrs after a sexual assault?

    It's been 3 years since I was sexually assaulted, I spend a year of counselling through westcasa and recently I've been thinking about what happened quite a lot. I'm not sure if I should talk to someone as I've been so happy the last year and half and I'm not sure how to make sense of it all.
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  • 9


    Ralph Graham


    Ralph Graham, Counsellor, Psychotherapist, helping those who are affected by:grief, loss, anxiety, phobias, panic attack.And those who have been traumatised by:crime, assault, sexual abuse and … View Profile

    What you describe is deeply traumatic and sometimes the after effects keep returning. Something in your environment may be triggering the memory of what happened to you. Perhaps there was something not addressed in your counselling. You could consider counselling from someone who has a different approach to the one you saw earlier. I would advise against turning it all over in your mind trying to find the reason the event is on your mind so much. A fresh look at this with someone new could be very helpful and give you the answers you seek.

    Do focus on your current life, your work and leisure and on the ones who are close to you and support you. A strong focus on gratitude for all we can be thankful for can have an amazing effect and see if there is something you can do to help others.

    Some of these may be helpful but although unresolved painful memories may fade for a time they will not go away until they are resolved. Find someone who feels right for you to work with to get the deeper healing you may need. What state/region are you in?

  • 2



    HealthShare Member

    Thank you for your responce, I am in the western suburbs of Melbourne Victoria 

  • 1




    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    A lot of excellent advice and useful links have been provided here by others, and I encourage you to follow up in a way that seems most helpful for you.
    While you are waiting to see your counsellor, or getting the ball rolling re accessing alternative supports, I wonder if it may be useful to take some time and reconnect to what has helped in the past. A year of counselling is substantial work - what was helpful in that time? What insights helped you to get through, and what strategies were most useful in assisting you to reduce your anxiety? Don't wait twelve weeks to reconnect to your strengths and resources - part of your healing journey may be experiencing your own capacity to access the perspectives and approaches that have helped the most.
    Often what is taken from a survivor of sexual assault is her ability to feel in charge of her world - recovery happens when you experience yourself once again as being able to not just maintain internal as well as external safety, but to re-establish this when it is temporarily lost.

  • 7


    My name is Catherine and I completed my counselling studies at the Australian Catholic University. As a Counsellor, I have worked in Australia, England, Rwanda, … View Profile

    Hello there, 

    I am sorry to hear that recently you have been struggling with the sexual assault you experienced three years ago. It's wonderful to hear that you engaged in counselling for one year with West CASA. It sounds like the counselling was very helpful and supportive for you. 

    When individuals have experienced sexual assault, sometimes they will feel like they are coping very well, and other times they will struggle. What is really helpful is being able to identify what it is that you need to do to cope and manage better day to day. Sometimes in counselling, we may find we need to review what skills and coping strategies are working for us, and which are not. At times, if we get used to relying on specific strategies, they can lose its effect, and make us feel stuck. The fact that you have thought about considering speaking to someone is a positive step forward. 

    I can imagine that there are many counselling services that have long waiting lists and times, please don't be discouraged though, as there are services out there that you could contact for in the moment support/single session counselling. That is at least until you're able to see a counsellor. You might find a call sufficient enough to both learn about and incorporate a new coping mechanism or two into your daily routine. You might also find it a relief to be able to express how it is that you're feeling. 

    Some 24/7 counselling helplines that you could contact are:
    Sexual Assault Crisis Line - 1800 806 292
    1800 RESPECT - 1800 737 732

    All in all, I do wish you the best of luck, and I do hope that you will be able to find the support you need from a counsellor. 

    Take care,

  • 1




    Dr Selvaranjani Thillairajah

    GP (General Practitioner)

    Dr Selvaranjani Thillairajah MBBS (CMC Vellore) graduated in 1995 and is a fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. She is of Sri … View Profile

    This issue can stay in your mind for many years. It is always best to talk to someone about it. I highly suggest seeing a counsellor or a GP near you as they can help you deal with it mentally.

  • Mr Max von Sabler

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist Max is a clinical psychologist working in the public and private health sectors. He currently holds several appointments at Monash Health where he provides … View Profile

    Hi there,

    I'm terribly sorry to hear about what happened to you. Seeking professional support and treatment in these instnaces is usually the best method. These memories are usually too difficult for us to process and they remain as flashabcks, nightmares or intrusive memories that cause an enormous amount of distress. You may be suffering from PTSD and I would recommend you talk to a clinical psychologist or your GP about this.

    Treatment is usually very successful so you can be assured that talking to someone is your best choice. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with me or visit our website:

    We have a specific section about trauma located here that answers many of the common questions

  • During my life journey, I have had the honour of working with people of different cultures, experiences, ages, faiths, beliefs, values and walks of life. … View Profile

    What happened to you was traumatic: unexpected & unwelcome so what you're going through is a normal response to traumatic events. I'm so glad to hear that you received necessary support at the time. The fact that these memories and responses have come up again is your body's way of telling you that there is still work to be done. Please reach out for support. You do not have to go through this alone. 

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