TAMPA, Fla. — Nikita Wilson served in the army for 10 years, and before she was even sent overseas, she experienced trauma.
"There was a point in time where I was sexually assaulted on two separate occasions in one night. And it happened right as I was in training, getting ready to move onto an overseas duty station. So it actually started something that I couldn’t have prepared for if I wanted to.”
With a big change on the horizon, it took her over two years to realize how deeply the event had impacted her, but she felt the effects on a regular basis.
“There were times when I just went numb. I would try to cover myself. I would wear clothes that were two, three sizes too big because I didn’t want people to see me and feel like they could violate me.”
But there was finally a moment when she realized she had trauma that needed to be addressed.
"I was in my room, and I broke down. I was on the floor on my hands and knees screaming and crying for help. But I wasn’t even sure at first why I was crying, it took a moment. It was like I was being tormented from within. And the thoughts started coming, fear, I was feeling like I was in the moment again. And when I finally calmed down, that’s when I knew it was time to reach out for help," Wilson said.
Now, Wilson is a veteran care coordinator for the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. A job she handles with pride.
"That was a big push for me to say, 'Hey, you know you’re here to help someone else. You need to show them what it looks like to be helped.'”
Getting help, or talking to someone, is the only way to begin the recovery process.
“Trauma untreated does not go away. It will manifest itself for the rest of your life in ways that you may or may not be conscious of," explained Clara Reynolds, CEO and president of Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
Even for a survivor and coordinator like Wilson, recovery is an ongoing process.
"We learn how to cover it up and dress it up really nice," Wilson said. 'We give the right answers, we smile. And my counselor, I am very grateful for her. She doesn’t let me just give the pretty answer anymore.”
From a trauma fighter to a survivor and care provider.
“It’s victory. It’s like, what was meant to harm me turned out to be something that’s being used for good.”
It is important to reach out if you need help. The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is available around the clock all year long by calling 211.
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