Lara Logan and the Emotional Recovery After a Sexual Assault

CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan lived through a nightmare while covering the revolution in Egypt.

On Friday, Feb. 11, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a "60 Minutes" story when she, her team and their security were surrounded by a "dangerous element amidst the celebration," according to CBS News. A mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy and Logan was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently home recovering after enduring what no woman should.

Lara is not alone. Unfortunately, 18 percent of women in the United States are raped, and in one year, 222,000 people experienced a rape or sexual assault, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

For insights on the recovery process ahead for Lara and the hundreds of thousands of women in similar situations, we turn to Rachel Sussman, a marriage and relationship therapist with a private practice in New York City.

"When anyone goes through a traumatic event such as a beating and/or rape, the recovery is complicated and consists of healing both the physical and mental injuries," Sussman says. "I'm sure that her doctors will immediately treat her physical wounds, and I pray she heals from them, but the emotional scars can go quite deep."

Sussman explains that victims heal and cope differently and determining how long the recovery takes after such an ordeal is impossible. Some victims may experience depression and anxiety experienced over the event, and these may include:

  • Irritability or anger
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Hearing or seeing things that aren't there

Some victims suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD. Symptoms can vary, but may include:

  • Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time
  • Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Click here for more signs of PTSD.

"The symptoms can come and go. You can have a great few weeks but then be re-traumatized when you read a report about a rape or see a scene in a movie," Sussman says. "There is, however, excellent help for trauma survivors and I hope she receives the best treatment, can recover and go on to lead a healthy life once again."

We wish the best of luck to Lara Logan as she recovers and salute her heroic attempt to cover one of the most revolutionary political movements in recent history.

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Rachel A. Sussman, LCSW, is a marriage and family therapist. Her focus is helping people improve their emotional well being, enhance their ability to engage in interpersonal relationships, and empower them with the tools necessary to take control of their lives. To ask Rachel your questions, sign up for genConnect.