WOMEN
07/05/2011 01:16 pm ET | Updated Sep 04, 2011

Journalist Mac McClelland Simulates Own Rape To Combat Her PTSD

Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland witnessed some of the sexual atrocities committed in aftermath of earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 -- and was so haunted by what she saw that she staged her own violent rape in order to get over it.

McCelland couldn't shake the image of woman who had been raped at gunpoint and mutilated, reports ABC News. When she accompanied her to the hospital and the woman saw her attackers she went into a full paroxysm -- wailing, flailing" in terror.

It was an event that proved too much for McClelland to process, as she began to develop the classic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder -- crying spells, flashbacks, insomnia, even certain smells made her gag.

The 31-year-old writer sought professional help, but it was only simulating her own rape she says cured her of PTSD -- something she writes about extensively for a piece on GOOD titled, "How Violent Sex Helped Ease My PTSD," according to ABC News.

In the article she explains how her sexual partner held her down, beat her and forced himself on her:

By the time he pinned me by my neck with one forearm so I was forced to use both hands to free up space between his elbow and my windpipe, I'd largely exhausted myself.

McClelland told ABC News it was a way for her to deal in a controlled situation where she could say stop at anytime.

Not surprisingly, McClelland's article hasn't been received well by everyone. According to The Daily Mail, McClelland says she's received emails from readers thanking her, while ABC says others reacted in disgust called her a "racist and a f**cked up whore."

A far more elegant critique was posted on Jezebel, in the form of an open letter from 36 female journalists and researchers who have lived and worked in Haiti. Their letter didn't take as much issue with McClelland's manner of coping, as they did with her descriptions of Haiti:

She paints Haiti as a heart-of-darkness dystopia, which serves only to highlight her own personal bravery for having gone there in the first place.


Many experts don't recommend self-treatment, nor did the therapists McClelland spoke with. Her therapist told her to "inhale trauma and exhale compassion," but McClelland told her therapist, "All I want is to have incredibly violent sex."

In the GOOD article she writes:

My body felt devastated but relieved; I'd lost, but survived. After he climbed off me, he gathered me up in his arms. I broke into a thousand pieces on his chest, sobbing so hard that my ribs felt like they were coming loose.

What journalists witness and endure in the field is rarely talked about on a personal level, but that changed this past winter after CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was attacked in Egypt. McClalland took the Committee to Protect Journalists to task for not making any mention of sexual harassment in their manual. After interviewing nearly 50 journalists who experienced sexual violence while on the job, they added an "addendum on sexual aggression," reports The Daily Mail.

According to the Mail, McClelland has conquered her PTSD and hasn't let it interfere with her reporting -- she returned to Haiti this past January for two weeks.