Speaking and listening about trauma

Written by Chisato Hotta, DSW, LPCC, LMFT

Trigger Warning:
This post discusses multiple forms of trauma including graphic descriptions of sexual trauma, physical trauma,emotional trauma and domestic violence/Intimate Partner Violence. If activated, TILA recommends incorporating healing practices such as moving, walking, running, pushing against a wall, connecting with people who are supportive and empathetic, and taking a break at any time.

At 20 years old, I had gone through quite a bit in my life. Molestation, domestic violence, kidnapping and sexual assault… I felt like a victim- and I broke inside. 

It took me a long time to truly put down the guilt and shame I carried within me. After I realized that none of the guilt was mine to carry, I put it down. My true healing started there. 

In the mid twenties, I became a rape crisis counselor. That role taught me the amazing strengths of individuals who had their power and control taken away for that moment… and was able to emerge through the other side- not just survive but to thrive. 

As a rape crisis counselor, I met the most powerful people- men and women. Although the misconception is that only women go through sexual assault, men actually go through it too!  Being able to provide that space for them to heal and feel safe was such an honor. Through that experience, I learned some things:


It is important to listen without judgment, if someone is brave enough to share their story, be safe enough to listen and believe them. 


When people share about a rape or sexual assault, unsafe people and places are quick to label them and assign blame on the survivors. I believe this is to distance themselves and say, “it won’t happen to me or my loved ones”. The unfortunate truth is that we don’t control if someone assaults us or our loved ones- if we knew they would, obviously we would not “put ourselves in that situation.” We don’t have that control. 


Speaking about assault is important. Speaking about trauma is important, because if we don’t talk about it, it will continue to be pushed into the shadows and will continue to happen more and more.

So…. Speak out. Talk about trauma. And if someone shares their trauma with you- listen with an open heart and mind. That is the first big step to creating a trauma informed world. You have that power. 

Please note: If you are experiencing domestic violence, intimate partner violence, gender based violence, please see our resources.