Sexual violence is the general term we use to describe any kind of unwanted sexual act or activity, including rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and many others.
At the centre we there are two specialist sexual violence support workers who can offer one to one trauma informed support. Contact [email protected] or call us on 0330 1 34 34 34
These are some of the areas in which trauma informed support is offered.
SELF CARE: Self-care means taking care of your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. It is important for everyone, but it can also help you cope with your thoughts and feelings after rape, sexual abuse or any type of sexual violence – whether it happened recently or a long time ago.
GROUNDING TECHNIQUES: Grounding is a technique you can use when you feel strong emotions. It can help you feel calmer and more in control. If you have experienced trauma, you may at times feel overwhelmed by memories, thoughts and feelings. You may feel ‘triggered’ or experience flashbacks. Grounding techniques are designed to help you be ‘grounded’ in the here and now – not thinking about the past or being overwhelmed by your thoughts or feelings.
YOUR FEELINGS ARE VALID:
Everyone feels differently after experiencing sexual violence. Whatever you feel is a completely valid response to what’s happened. Whatever you do or don’t feel now or in the future is OK, and talking to the EDC can help. If you’ve experienced rape or sexual violence, you might be going through lots of different feelings or emotions.
You might feel:
- unclear about something or unsure what you’re feeling
- overwhelmed by feelings
- like it’s hard to cope with day-to-day life
- something in your stomach
- an uneasiness in your chest
Common emotions after sexual violence
It can be hard to untangle the range of complicated emotions we feel. It can be helpful to explore your feelings, and identify each one. From here you can start to work through your feelings and begin to heal.
Some common emotions you might experience are:
- Anger: you might be feeling angry, irritable or short-tempered with those close to you.
- Anxiety: you might feel intense panic, worry or a sense that something is wrong.
- Blame: you might feel that you are responsible or to blame for what happened.
- Embarrassment: you might feel embarrassed, humiliated and like you don’t want anyone to know.
- Fear: you might be afraid of people, of places, or of being on your own.
- Loneliness: you might feel isolated and alone, like you’re the only person who’s ever been through this or like you’re different from everyone else.
- Numbness: you might feel empty or unable to feel anything.
- Shame: you might feel ‘dirty’ or ashamed about what’s happened.
- Worthlessness: you might feel worthless or even like you hate yourself.However you’re feeling, it’s real, it’s yours and you’re not alone.
ANXIETY: Anxiety is a feeling of worry or unease. Most people experience anxiety at some time or other in their lives. But if your anxiety feels overwhelming, you might want help with managing it.
It’s common to feel responsible for the sexual violence you’ve experienced. You might feel guilty or to blame. You are not to blame. It is not your fault.
Try to recognise when your thoughts become self-blaming.
You might have thoughts like ‘it was my fault’, or think things like:
- ‘I should have…’
- ‘I shouldn’t have…’
- ‘If I had only…then it wouldn’t have happened.’
- ‘I deserved it.’
- ‘I was asking for it.’
- ‘I led him on.’
Once you recognise these thought patterns you can start to challenge and replace them.
It can be really hard, but try to remember that the only person to blame for what happened is the perpetrator(s).
FLASHBACKS: Flashbacks usually happen suddenly, without warning. They are vivid memories of a traumatic event that feel like they are happening now. You may re-experience what you saw, heard, smelt, felt and your body’s reactions, such as a fast heartbeat. They can last from seconds to hours
SLEEP ISSUES: You might experience some of the following:
- fear of falling asleep and having nightmares
- nightmares – more than just bad dreams, you might feel like you’re re-experiencing sexual violence
- feeling tired due to poor sleep
- insomnia – being unable to sleep
- waking up throughout the night
Sleep problems have further effects on our wellbeing. You might feel:
- tired all the time
- grumpy and irritable
- stressed about being unable to get to sleep at night or worried about having nightmares
- mentally exhausted from constantly thinking about sexual violence through your nightmares
SELF HARM: Some people self-harm as a response to sexual violence. Self-harm is anything that someone does to cause harm to themselves. This includes cutting or burning, not eating, taking drugs and working to exhaustion.
Why might I self-harm?
There are many reasons why you might self-harm after experiencing sexual violence.
Sometimes we experience emotions at times when we aren’t ready to deal with them or feel it’s inappropriate – for example, crying at work or school.
You might self-harm to use pain as a way of suppressing or distracting yourself from your emotions.
When our emotions become too much for us or too painful, it can feel like a pot about to boil over.
Causing ourselves harm can be a way of relieving some of this pain and can give us a sense of relief, like taking the lid off the pot of boiling water.
When we feel numb, experiencing pain is a quick way of proving to ourselves that we can still feel and are still alive.
Feelings of shame or guilt can sometimes make us to believe we deserve to feel pain.
After experiencing sexual violence it’s common to feel out of control. Through self-harm you might feel you can bring control back into your life – for example, by choosing how you hurt and when.
As well as controlling emotions, self-harm can give you a feeling of control over your life more widely.
Self Harm Training: https://www.clareshaw.co.uk/mental_health_training.html