How Virtual Internships May Help Survivors Heal After Sexual Assault or Harassment

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by Tia Langhout & McNeil Inksmudge

Sexual Assault in America

As horrible as it is, sexual assault and sexual harassment can happen anywhere: at work, at school, or even at home in an exclusive relationship. No one of these is less confusing or conflicting than the other, and all of them are equally dreadful. According to the Huffington Post, an average of 321,500 US citizens will become sexual violence survivors this year, and 99% of perpetrators will walk free.

Recognizing Sexual Assault and Harassment

Sexual assault and sexual harassment can be hard to identify. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the differences if either has happened to you. Shame, disgust, and anger can make a complex mix that hinders the facts. The US Department of Justice and the US Army have made considerable advances in defining both and in deterring attacks. Sexual assault is described as: “intentional sexual contact, characterized by the use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent.” The Army defines sexual harassment as “a form of gender discrimination that involves unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature between the same or opposite genders.”

Simply put: sexual assault is an act that has been followed through by force, and sexual harassment is an act that uses words or other non-physical means. Of course, either act may manifest in several ways. If you identify with any of these conditions, please seek out law enforcement. If you have already contacted the police, you may be searching for a way to recover.

It’s Different for Every Person

A Safe Place Nantucket says “It is important to remember that there is no one ‘normal’ reaction to sexual assault.” Sexual assault and sexual harassment take their tolls on survivors differently, and they could take weeks or years to recover. The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN, tells us that people can experience depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and even self-isolation because they can’t imagine being around potential threats. It is vital to remember that healing will happen, and sometimes it takes some external help. It can be challenging to transition back into normal life after sexual abuse. Taking small steps to reintroduce yourself into the world can be a great way to start.

Thankfully, we have an empowering tool at our fingertips. The internet allows us to do everything from grocery shopping to attaining meaningful employment. Moreover, an internet-based internship could play a significant role in a survivor’s recovery process. Everyone who experiences sexual abuse deserves an outlet to move past it. In a remote internship, you have more control over person-to-person interactions. A virtual internship can facilitate rebuilding healthy trust, and in re-establishing a routine that brings predictability and order after the event.

A Safe Space

Creating new environments in which to spend your time is one of the best things you can do to overcome these experiences. That could mean finding a new activity or even finding a new job. Creating unique career opportunities can be a fantastic way to help yourself heal. With that in mind, a remote internship is an excellent way to do that. It’s also important to find a safe space to grow and heal. Remote interns can work from anywhere: either from the safety of your own home or even from your favorite coffee shop that feels like home; wherever your safe spot may be. It eliminates the scare of what-if moments in a brand-new workplace and helps you retain your own safe environment.

Having a secure venue is vital to the healing process because it’s not possible to heal in a hostile environment, even if it’s only perceived as hostile. Having to go back to the place of the attack can replay the events for the survivor. With a remote internship, the survivor doesn’t need to continue walking among the event’s ghost. The person can find a new place to be their safety base, healing area, and next baby step.

A Remote Internship Opens New Doors of Hope

It’s common for survivors to get wrapped up in a spiral of depression. With that in mind, if you are a survivor, working towards a goal will help you break that cycle and open up a new door of opportunity. Substantial goals and a productive to-do list to occupy time will help avoid letting the spiral continue. Having that goal list in mind you can see the growth happening with every task you check off. Each check represents a time you weren’t dwelling on pain but making a conscious effort to move forward with your life. It’s a physical representation of the healing process.

By building positive relationships, virtual internships will not only enrich your life but also create a network of new possibilities. Since remote internships can be environments filled with positivity, they create a desire for growth, an essential part of the healing process. The new collage of connections and personalities will be one of the many things you need to get back on your feet.

Possibly most relevant, it’s much more difficult for sexual assault and sexual harassment to happen from a remote position. Without a physical workspace, sexual assault isn’t possible, and sexual harassment is much less likely. A digital trail would make it easy to catch anyone who tried.

It’s OK To Ask For Help

Don’t forget that it is okay to ask for help. There are plenty of resources out there. You can contact A Safe Place Nantucket at (508)228-2111. Speak to someone about your attack, no matter when it happened, what happened, or how it happened. There are always people there to help you through it.

There will be days that are harder than others, and those are most important to reach out and let someone know you’re struggling. You may gain relief by texting with your best friend, or calling the hotline number above anonymously; anything that will help you get through those hard days and onto the better days. Remember: there is no “normal” in the healing process. Each person will overcome the horrible experience in a unique way, and that is perfectly okay.

We want to help you move past your trauma any way we can. Even if you’ve received professional and legal help, expanding your career opportunities in a way that is consistent with your recovery needs can be an excellent additional way to gain control of your life and feel whole again. If a change of pace is something you need, take a minute to learn more about now.