As more women come forward with allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein, it's become increasingly clear that the emotional scars left by sexual harassment, assault, and rape sometimes never go away. With every new accuser comes a reminder that so many people hide their pain and their trauma for years in fears that people won't believe them, accept them, or help provide them with the healing resources they need.
In an emotional Instagram post, Scream Queens actress and survivor Abigail Breslin shared how her own experience with sexual assault and domestic violence gave her Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that the National Center for PTSD reports stems from "long-term trauma" and can change survivors' "self-concept and the way they adapt to stressful events."
"It's #domesticviolenceawarenessmonth. I'm a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor," she wrote. "While I now am no longer with my abuser, In the aftermath of what happened to me, I developed Complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) . I took this pic of my ankle a few hours ago right after one of my "episodes" as I call them."
Breslin explained that she became so "freaked out and disoriented" that she wound up falling and cutting herself on a piece of glass. She said that these "episodes" can often stem from a triggering situation, though being able to predict what will trigger her is incredibly difficult because they "are often very hard to detect." Because of that, Breslin emphasized just how important it is to "keep the discussion open" not just during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but all year-round.
"While at first I felt this was very awkward and uncomfortable to post, I reminded myself of something I say often: PTSD is absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed or embarrassed about," Breslin wrote. "PTSD is the result of an uncontrollable scenario. Never feel like you are less than because you have a condition that you didn’t cause. You are still beautiful, you are still important, you are still WORTHY."
In April, Breslin made the incredibly difficult, yet brave, decision to speak publicly about being raped and how the horrible assault had affected her daily life.
"I was diagnosed with PTSD a year and a half ago," she wrote in an Instagram post. "I have made a lot of progress since the event occurred, but I won't pretend it isn't something I struggle with. I still have flashbacks, I still get nightmares, I still jump when somebody touches me unexpectedly, even if it's my best friend tapping me on the shoulder."
By being so open and personal about her story, I can only hope that other survivors can free themselves of misplaced guilt and shame and allow themselves to find help and support.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).