Coping with the Aftermath of Sexual Assault
Discover how to rebuild and empower your life moving forward
The trauma that can be felt as a result of sexual assault is one of the most painful and difficult feelings to overcome. It’s a sense of feeling broken, violated, and incomplete. Recovering and healing takes time, but throughout the process you begin to regain control and feel a sense of self-worth.
What is important is that you take each step slow and along the way find new avenues to channel your emotions while you try to find balance and feel secure again. Our advocates, and other trauma professionals often recognize that some survivors struggle with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Anxiety, and Depression. This is not uncommon, and while these after-effects can create brutal strains on everything from relationships to workplace performance, it is critical to seek out professional counsel.
Coming to terms with your experience, and releasing the thoughts of shame, helplessness, and blame are some of the most defining moments you’ll have in the recovery process. Do not let the past hold you back from the happiness that is waiting for you in the rest of your life. From the pain and darkness, you can rise into a new vision of strength and courage.
Here’s a few steps you can utilize in your journey to rebuild your self-esteem, regain confidence, and express your feelings:
- Don’t be afraid to talk about what happened to you. Find someone you can trust to talk to when you need it or even consider joining a support group where you can make a difference for others, just as they can help you too.
- Come to terms with your feelings of guilt and shame. What happened to you was not your fault, and any other misconceptions that may be running through your head are simply tiny voices that you don’t need to listen to. When you keep questioning yourself about the why’s and what if’s, it’s only going to lead you into more distress.
- Be prepared for traumatic triggers. Your body and your mind will occasionally bring back flashbacks and upsetting memories if prompted. This can come in a variety of forms, sometimes without notice, but over time (and with a little help) you can train yourself to help manage those tensions if you feel them coming on. Research different soothing and calming techniques to help control your mind and body before it overwhelms you.
- Pay close attention to your physical and emotional well-being. Don’t try to numb the pain through unconventional outlets like drugs or alcohol. Instead take unique measures to empower yourself through movement and energy. Many people find activities like meditation, yoga, dancing, or even cardio as a way to channel that anxiety into momentum that is great exercise for the body and soul.
- Continue to engage in socialization. Stay connected with friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who can continue to be a positive, and supportive force in your healing. Find the joy in reconnecting with people who share some of the interests and dreams as you, because that kind of inspiration will only strengthen your recovery.
- Don’t avoid self-care! Keeping up with good nutrition and exercise is the best way to help your body refresh every single day. Make sure you get good, healthy rest too because your body still needs that time to relax. Don’t let the anxiety of the past stand in the way of a bright, healthy future for you.
These are just a small sample of some of the steps you can take in your own path to feeling whole again. Sexual Assault, like many traumatic events, changes you and while today you may realize just how much hurt there is in that pain, there is also a spark of hope waiting to be revealed. Coping with the aftermath of sexual assault is not an easy adjustment, and it can have lifelong effects on the type of person you are- but you cannot allow it to define you or your future. You don’t have to hide it. Instead let it motivate you and uplift your spirit to become so much more.
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