The life of the 11-year-old girl who was savagely raped while on her way to school on Monday will never be what it was, but rather it may be filled with nightmares and pent-up rage, a sexual-trauma expert said yesterday.
James Villareal, a Mount Airy psychotherapist who deals with a range of issues, including sexual-abuse trauma, said the victim's fear and guilt are the first of a gamut of emotions in a case like this.
"The child absorbs part of the abuser and takes it on that they are the one doing it [the abusing]," he said. "They take on a hidden and difficult guilt."
Rage, depression and low self-esteem may also develop if the victim doesn't come to terms with the harrowing experience through therapy, he said.
"The anger carried, much of that anger is turned inward," he said. "Intimacy is almost impossible.
"She'll have a hard time feeling safe anywhere unless with family or someone she's comfortable with. The confusion is buried in that child's mind."
A coping mechanism of trauma victims, he said, is dissociation - the mental process of detaching oneself from a traumatic situation during its occurrence.
But it has its drawbacks.
"When the self is removed in that dissociative way, it's difficult to put it back into its normal happy self," he said.
A victim of rape himself, Villareal said the memory of his attack resurrected decades later. At age 8, Villareal, now 63, was raped by a group of teenage boys that included his brother in West Philadelphia, he said. For years, he didn't remember it, despite emotional and physical aftereffects.
What's crucial for the girl is to feel that those around her will attempt to restore her lost sacredness, he said.
The capture in Kensington yesterday of Jose Carrasquillo, whom police named a person of interest in the incident, should be a comfort to the young girl, he said.
She remains hospitalized after undergoing surgery as a result of the assault.
"It was the protection of people who've been harmed," he said of the mob who beat up Carrasquillo and held him until authorities arrived.