Over past few months there have been waves of allegations of sexual assault and harassment coming out of Hollywood, Washington, and elsewhere. Every day our social media feeds are minefields loaded with triggers. It’s hard to avoid. For many survivors, anytime someone is brave enough to tell their story it brings up memories of their own trauma and all the uncomfortable feelings of shame and guilt and self-loathing. Those feelings can have a negative impact on the survivors mental and emotional health so it is important for sexual assault survivors to practice self-care.
- Do not feel pressured to tell your story, ever. If you do feel like now is the time, surround yourself with people you trust who can support you through it.
- Validate your friends and family who are sharing their own stories. Offer them love and support in a way that is safe for you.
- Talk to your therapist or doctor. You do not have to do this alone. Seek counseling or medication if you need it.
- Utilize programs like Social Fixer to help filter out the content you see. Control the time and place when you decide to read these stories. Find a safe space and give yourself time to process.
- Read your favorite book, watch your favorite movie or TV show, escape to a place that is comforting to you in your mind for a few hours.
- Bookmark your favorite cute animal videos and GIFs so you have something comforting to look at after you’ve read something difficult. This list from Huffpost is a go-to of mine.
- Get physical. Go for a walk or run, take an exercise class.
- Take a long shower or hot bath.
- Write it out. Keep a journal handy and get those thoughts out on paper. Even if no one ever reads them, it’s cathartic to give them their own space outside of your head.
- Paint, draw, color, knit, do something creative.
- Cuddle your pets, or if you don’t have one, go spend a few hours at a shelter cuddling and petting some furry friends.
- Feed yourself. Spend time making your favorite meal from scratch, or save up and splurge on that favorite expensive treat.
- Avoid the news if you must. It will still be there tomorrow.
- Spend time with people you love and who make you feel safe. If those people happen to be online friends, like most of mine, start a group chat and check in with each other daily.
- Rest. One of the hardest things for me right now is nightmares. I have a routine I follow that helps. I don’t read or watch the news, Facebook, or other social media for two hours before I’m going to sleep. I will watch Friends or read a funny book to avoid having those thoughts in my head as I’m settling in for the night.
These are suggestions. Self-care can mean different things to each person and is not a substitute for therapy or medical help.
If you need help now call National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. Suicide helplines outside the US can be found here.