In light of recent disturbing events with the Kavanagh hearing, many sexual assault victims are understandably reliving trauma. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and 1 in 6 women have been victims of rape or attempted rape. We know that each survivor’s healing journey is unique and deserves individualized short-term and long-term care. But, here are some self-care tips sexual assault survivors can use to help cope:
1. Be nice to yourself and have your emergency self-care plan ready
It’s okay not to be okay right now. Try to create your emergency self-care plan if you feel like you might need one. Maybe yours includes some deep breathing exercises, meditation or calling a friend. RAINN has a resource on creating a safety plan, here.
2. Find community and support
Always easier said than done, but it is so crucial for you to be able to reach out to your support network when it gets hard. Call your bestie, reach out to family, have a check-in with your partner. Take time to share what you need from them, catch up on your favorite TV show or simply enjoy a meal together. You don’t have to go through this alone.
3. Know and communicate your personal sexual boundaries as you might be navigating previous sexual trauma
Dealing with constant triggers in the media or symptoms of PTSD might cause a decrease in libido. Communicate with your partner about what your boundaries are right now. During sex, agree to take breaks and go at a slower pace to check-in with one another. Not only will this be a more positive and consensual sexual experience, but it will be more pleasurable and connected experience for both of you.
4. Be in tune with your body
Repeat after us: I am the CEO of my body. Ask your body: Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating enough? Are you drinking water? Take a bath with some bath salts, be sure to stay hydrated, and find a moment to take a breath for yourself and get a little stretch in. When we are being reminded of our traumatic experiences, sometimes our bodies can tense up and hold onto that tension.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be overwhelming and triggering places to spend your free time right now. Try taking a mental break and going on a nice walk with your partner or friend. Studies show that spending even just 15 minutes walking in nature increases your positive emotions and your ability to reflect on a life problems.
6. Get professional help
A mental-health professional can provide a non-judgmental space to help you navigate your experiences and help you find new ways to deal with trauma. RAINN has a list of things to consider when looking for a therapist and how therapy can help you, here.
7. Find a creative outlet
Find a creative outlet that sparks joy in your heart. Enjoy writing? Break out that cute notebook you bought for cuteness-sake and let your thoughts, emotions, and feelings pour onto the page. Enjoy painting or drawing? Grab your tool of choice and let your mind and hands run freely onto the paper. Maybe even consider a relaxing adult coloring book!
8. Meditate & heal with crystals
Focus on how you’re feeling and what type of energy you need. Chakrubs has a great post on finding the right stone to help you work on your healing journey, here. We recommend gentle stones that promote peace, calm, release of negative energy, heal emotional wounds and fears like Amethyst or Rose Quartz.
9. Express gratitude
Even in everyday life without constant triggers from the media, we underestimate the power of gratitude. Set some time aside every day to list 3 things you’re grateful for, then breathe in those feelings. The little things help us get through the big, dark, scary things!
10. Feel empowered, but not pressured
We at the Bloomi want you to know that you have the right to decide how and when to speak up about your experiences. We just want to remind you that there is no pressure to share your story in the wake of the #MeToo movement or the recent Supreme Court Justice confirmation. We believe and support you whether or not you have shared your story. If you want to thank Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for her courageous testimony on behalf of all survivors, please join us in sending her a letter at ℅ Palo Alto University 1791 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can seek help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800)-656-HOPE (4673). For more resources on sexual assault, visit RAINN and National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
2. Yehuda, R. et al.. PTSD and Sexual Dysfunction in Men and Women. Journal Sex Med. 2015; 12(5): 1107-1119.
3. Mayer, F et. al (2009). Why Is Nature Beneficial? The Role of Connectedness to Nature. Environ Behav. 2009; (41):607-643.