How can you begin to heal and move forward when you’ve endured sexual trauma? How do trauma and eating disorders overlap? And what should you do if you learn your partner was abused as a child?
These are just some the topics I explored with Jimanekia Eborn, a wonderful expert in mental health, sex education and trauma support, on Girl Boner Radio this week. I’ve wanted to sit down with Jimanekia for a podcast chat forever, it seems.
Jimanekia grew up watching Law & Order SVU and thinking early on, “This is what I want to do.” But her path to working with trauma survivors wasn’t quick or linear.
“I think my kicker was when I got kicked out of school… It turns out, you’re supposed to show up for class,” she said with a laugh. “From there, it’s very interesting. I started in community college and then I became a rape crisis counselor. I did lots of training, helping people with whatever wounds they might have… It was the most humbling thing I’d ever done, after they literally had just come from the scene…. People think it’s weird, but I just felt at home. It felt like it just made sense. That was an a-ha moment, so I thought, clearly, I had to go to college to study psychology.”
Since embarking officially on the path of supporting survivors, Jimanekia has worked with people of a range of ages, genders and backgrounds. In doing so, she’s had additional epiphanies. She saw a need for comprehensive sex education from the ground up, and provides it to kids as early young as kindergarten-age. Having observed a strong need for mental health support in sexual trauma survivors, she speaks about the frequent overlap of mental health conditions such as eating disorders and trauma. She’s even shared takeaways from her own story for Cosmo and (lucky for us!) on Girl Boner Radio.
“People sometimes forget that when your body has such extreme stuff done to it, you don’t know how it’s going to react. You don’t know how that person is going to react or how they’re going to cope. Sometimes within trauma, people will overeat: ‘Maybe if I’m bigger, no one will touch me.’ Or if you lose weight, ‘I’m in control,’ or ‘If I’m skinny, no one will want to touch me.’ A lot of times, that happens before you’re able to get assistance and you’re like, ‘I’m just trying to make it. This is how I can take control of my life again.'”
This is a major reason she decided to go back to school to study health psychology, specifically to better understand ways trauma can evolve into illnesses.
Wanting and attempting to cope are beautiful things, of course, but it’s easy to fall into methods that do more harm than good. When you’re able to receive the care and support you need, you have a much higher likelihood of coping in nourishing ways, or at least getting there sooner.
Find our full chat on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio or below! It also features thoughts from Dr. Megan Fleming for a listener who wants to support her boyfriend who endured childhood abuse, Jimanekia’s thoughts on forgiveness, how kegel exercises can invite stronger orgasms and more.