AMHC's Sexual Assault Services provides free and confidential support, education and advocacy to persons in Aroostook, Hancock, and Washington Counties. The goal is to promote healing and justice to all who are affected by sexual violence through advocacy, education and prevention. AMHC offers Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model (TREM), a group intervention intended to address long term cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal consequences of sexual and physical abuse. The intervention specifically responds to the needs of women trauma survivors with severe mental health disorders, many of whom have significant substance abuse problems. The TREM approach uses a supportive, skill building curriculum that allows members to acknowledge the impact of abuse while focusing their energies on developing techniques for mastery and enhancing their existing strengths for coping with current life events.
In the late 1980s, as a young Army enlistee, Sgt. Rock (pseudonym used at her request) was raped, became pregnant and had an abortion, despite her staunch anti-abortion belief. Her attacker was a superior officer and while she reported the assault, no charges were filed. After serving her enlistment, she left the Army and returned home to establish a life outside the military. Fast forward to 2010, Sgt. Rock was struggling with mental health issues and entered treatment. She found a counselor she liked at AMHC and started making progress with dealing with her illness, but there was still something missing in her treatment to fully address her trauma. Sgt. Rock’s counselor recommended that she talk with Wendy, a Sexual Assault Services advocate, about the TREM group. She decided to join the group and within a matter of months participating in group meetings, Sgt. Rock started making significant progress recognizing the extent of the trauma the assault and abortion had caused in her life. The TREM group offered her an opportunity to meet as part of a group or individually; and she was able to see that she wasn’t to blame for the situation. She also began to understand how the trauma continued to impact her life and that she needed to get help with her drinking.
When she started substance abuse treatment and became sober, she struggled with suicidal ideation and was hospitalized 3 times. She did not make any suicide attempts, but with her coping tools she had learned in therapy and TREM, she was able to recognize the signs and seek help. Today, even though she is still living with guilt and trauma, she is able to distract herself with puzzles or pleasurable thoughts and “get over the hurdle” when suicidal thoughts come into play.
Sgt. Rock is thankful that she found the services she needed. AMHC “is a great place to start healing. You can live a life [after rape] and you are lovable and can love.” She encourages other victims of sexual assault to seek counseling when “you are ready - it doesn’t matter if it happened last week or 25 years ago”.