So, I am a little late to the party. I was fortunate to enjoy a secure and loving romantic relationship from the ages of 17 through 24, a time when people often feel the most lost and alone. As a result, it is not until the age of 25 that I have begun to explore the monsoon-clusterfuck that is modern-dating. While that descriptor was fun to write, it is not entirely fair—for the most part dating has been a butterfly-in-the-stomach, fun-filled experience. I shamelessly support the use of dating apps and their ability to connect people to folks outside of one’s typical social network. Stand-up comedian? Great! French pastry chef? Yes, please. Marine Biologist? Cool, I too, love dolphins.
I grew up watching The Oprah Winfrey Show most days after school. Oprah deserves part, if not full, credit for my choice to pursue counselling as a career. I grew up in a household where most controversial or emotional topics were swept under the rug—my afternoons spent watching The Oprah Show were the first place I remember seeing people actually talk about their feelings.
Back in September, the night before my article, I Didn't Realize I Was Sexually Assaulted. Here's Why I'm Sharing My Story Now, was published online, I woke up every hour to check the time. In between tosses and turns, I decided that I would allow myself to check the website at 6am. When the time came, I gingerly opened my laptop.
It is easy to become numb to horrific stories like these that we see on the news. We do not like to think about death, especially random, unpreventable death. So, in order to avoid thinking about death we mentally explain how this could not happen to us (i.e. I do not live in Oregon, I do not attend college, I would have known how to stay safe in this situation).
A year ago, I went to Las Vegas with my girlfriends to celebrate our university graduation. On our first day there, my friends and I went to a loud, large, messy pool party at one of the hotels. Within minutes of arriving, we met a group of young men and started drinking with them until late in the evening. One of the guys, a professional athlete, took a special interest in me and I found his attention flattering. Thanks to the alcohol, the rest of the evening is now patchy at best. I recall stumbling out of the party as a big group, then ending up in a dark hotel room.
While research evidence has consistently demonstrated the link between social relationships and psychological distress, there is debate over the strength of perceived emotional support compared with perceived negative interaction on psychological distress and whether the relation between social relationships and psychological distress is direct or moderating.