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Ashley Judd Has an Important Reminder for Anyone Struggling to Heal From Trauma

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Actor and activist Ashley Judd was the first woman quoted in the New York Times piece that eventually led to the downfall of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The piece — and the public accusations of many more powerful men that followed — started a nationwide conversation about sexual harassment and assault.

• What is PTSD?

To keep the conversation going, the hashtag #MeToooriginally started by activist Tarana Burke, became a way to talk about the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. This eventually led to the launch of the Time’s Up —  a unified call for change from women in the entertainment industry aimed at supporting women from all backgrounds combat inequality and sexual misconduct.

A lot has happened since that first New York Times piece, and Judd has remained outspoken about her experiences. Last week at Tribeca Film Festival, she spoke about a part of living through trauma that continues even after accusations are made and justice is (hopefully) served — healing.

Addressing others who have lived through similar experiences, she called healing from trauma “our birthright.”

It was not our birthright to be sexually harassed or assaulted or raped based on social constructs of gender, biology, sex, identity, orientation, ethnicity, race, ability, or any intersection thereof. It is our birthright to know in our bones that it wasn’t our fault. We humans hurt each other, and sometimes we hurt ourselves, but we can make decisions and take actions that free us.

Judd also emphasized that healing from trauma is different for everyone — there’s no universal timeframe. While some might find calling the police and reporting an incident healing, others might need to also work it out with friends or a therapist. While some find they’re able to resume life as “normal” after a few months, others may feel the effects of their trauma even decades later.

“The particular freedom I’m describing does have one universal quality: It’s an inside job,” Judd said. “It is peace of mind. Yes, we can have peace of mind, even as survivors of violent sexual assault. It does take work, and it does take time. It requires transformation, and we are worth it.”

 In a piece called “5 Stages of Healing After Sexual Assault,” Mighty contributor Tara Potter shared what healing from trauma looked like for her. She wrote:

Trauma isn’t healed when the broken bones are mended or a new home is built or the perpetrators go to jail. Trauma is healed on a twisty, winding, upside down roller coaster ride that eventually reshapes a person to fit into their new world. It can take multiple rides on the roller coaster before it settles in. But eventually with time, with therapy, with support from the people who stay, one can find a home in this new place.

It’s important to remember that healing from trauma is possible. As we start to hold men (and women) more accountable for the pain they’ve caused, we can’t forget to support survivors who deserve the time, space and support it takes to heal.

“You are not alone, I believe you, and it wasn’t your fault,” Judd said. “There will still be the hard days. The facts do remain the facts, but we know our preciousness and our fierceness. Healing, damn it, is our birthright.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Harmonide

Originally published: May 2, 2018
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