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Monday
May022011

Reporter Calls Attention to Sexual Violence Against Female Journalists

TheGracies[dot]org(LOS ANGELES) -- Lara Logan, the CBS reporter who was sexually assaulted by a mob in Cairo's Tahrir Square the night that longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, opened up about the brutal attack in an emotional interview on 60 Minutes Sunday. The reporter said she decided to go public to call attention to sexual violence against female journalists, offering a tearful recollection of the horrific night she thought would be her last.

"There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying," Logan told CBS News' Scott Pelley. "I thought, 'Not only am I going to die, but it's going to be just a torturous death that's going to go on forever.'"

Logan said her clothes were torn off and her muscles were agonizingly stretched as she was separated from her crew and swallowed into the 200-to-300-strong mob. She recalled the flashes of cell phone cameras taking pictures of her naked body as her merciless attackers raped her with their hands.

"I didn't even know that they were beating me with flagpoles and sticks and things because I couldn't even feel that because I think the sexual assault was all I could feel, was their hands raping me over and over and over again," Logan said in the interview.

Logan was one of as many as 100 journalists who were assaulted, threatened or detained during the uprising. But the sexual nature of her attack left a psychological scar that many victims struggle to talk about.

"The physical wounds heal," Logan told the New York Times last week. "You don't carry around the evidence the way you would if you had lost your leg or your arm in Afghanistan."

Logan, 40, spent four days in the hospital following the Feb. 11 attack, which she described as being raped by the hands of the 200- to 300-strong mob. With the help of 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, she released a statement that she had "suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating" -- a revelation that Logan told the Times, "didn't leave me to carry the burden alone, like my dirty little secret, something that I had to be ashamed of."

"You never want to force trauma victims to talk," said Dr. Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. "But what you're seeing her do is willingly processing the trauma."

Klapow said discussing a traumatic experience can help victims adapt and accommodate the horrific thoughts, even though the memory will never disappear.

"Basically she's saying what's likely playing out in her head over and over again. She's verbalizing many of the intrusive thoughts she's experiencing and processing them, so that they're no longer as anxiety-provoking," he said.

Trauma in the line of duty can make it difficult for victims to return to work, Klapow said, and although he couldn't comment on Logan specifically, Klapow said it's "entirely plausible that someone who has gone through what she has could suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome," adding that sexual violence can also impact relationships and intimacy.

"While this was in no way an intimate act, the two are tied together," he said. "It's not unfathomable that she could have issues with physical intimacy."

Logan, who returned to work at CBS News Wednesday, said she doesn't plan on giving more interviews on the attack -- a decision that Klapow called "protective."

"Dealing with trauma like this doesn't necessarily mean talking about your trauma over and over," Klapow said. "As a psychologist I applaud her for coming forward and telling her story, but I also support her in her wish not to make this her life cause."

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