Self Care for Sexual Assault Survivors

  • Don’t rush anything. It may feel like you should be out, living your life and dating but if you’re not ready then don’t risk re-traumatizing yourself.
  • Do approach dating apps with caution. Bumble has a block option but only after you’ve matched with someone. Tinder doesn’t offer a block option at all so far, so it’s quite possible for your abuser to show up in your swipes.
  • Don’t isolate yourself. I know that’s easier said than done; you don’t have to tell anyone what happened yet but being around good people can help. A support system is key.
  • Do seek help if you can afford it. Check and see if your college campus offers free basic psychological counseling services. Planned Parenthood also offers psychiatric services when you’re ready.
  • Don’t be afraid of the world. There are biohacks, loopholes that can help you feel better even if just for a moment.

Start by acknowledging where anxiety is in your body, if your shoulders are high then drop them. If your arms are brought up to your chest, try lowering them. Anything that tightens your body is going to make your breathing faster and you will be more likely to panic.

Now that your chest is open, focus on where your eyesight is. Are you looking down? How wide is your peripheral vision? Try lifting your head, looking around and taking a deep breath.

Move. Feel your muscles, make sure they work. Know they’re there. Have faith in your body again. Push your feet into the floor. Tense your legs. You are grounded. You are here. Easing bodily tension is part of a psychological toolkit that will help you ease your way back out into the world.

  • Do find healthy coping mechanisms. Watch Netflix. Go to the gym. Start a journal. Any sort of outlet is better than keeping it bottled up inside, especially if you’re not ready to talk about it.
  • Don’t feel like you have to engage. If you are in an uncomfortable situation, you are allowed to leave.
  • Do be aware of engaging in risk-taking behavior afterwards. Everyone responds to trauma in different ways.
  • Don’t engage with sensitive media or content. Build a safe space for you to recover.
  • Do be cautious around the anniversary, you might not want to remember but our body stores that information regardless. Allow yourself space for a bad time. It’ll pass.

I’m not a licensed psychiatrist. All I can offer you is what helped me. It doesn’t go away. But it doesn’t define you either. We will recover together.


Featured Artwork: The Scornful Woman by Egon Schiele 

Cheyenne Ashe

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