Looking after yourself is essential. Whether it happened recently or years ago, self-care can help you cope with the short and long-term effects of being subjected to sexual violence.
There is no right or wrong emotional response and no set time for healing. You are an expert in your own life; learn to cope in your own way through your own emotions and feelings. It is important to be aware of what support is available so you can seek it when you feel ready to do so, and do remember to practice self-care, be kind to yourself.
Things you might find helpful:
- Be patient with yourself. If you have been subjected to sexual violence you need to give yourself time, to heal. It is natural to feel like you are not moving fast enough, healing takes time, allow yourself space to understand your own feelings and emotions.
- Get support from friends, family and/or from professional support services, whatever you feel comfortable with. One way of getting your feelings out is to talk about how you feel. If you find it too difficult to talk to others try writing down your thoughts and feelings or expressing them through other creative activities.
- It is not uncommon to feel isolated but it is important to reach out to those that are close to you.
- What has happened may interrupt your life at University and it might affect your relationships with your friends and family. Try not to go through this alone and allow others to help you explore the emotions and concerns you have.
- It is important to look after your physical health. Try to maintain a balanced diet and sleep cycle as much as possible; looking after your physical health will help you deal with the emotional stress.
- Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities you enjoy and find relaxing.
- You are not to blame - guilt and feeling responsible are common feelings, you may feel that you should have done something to prevent what happened but the blame should always fall on the person that has done this to you, the fault and shame does not belong to you.
Useful self-help resources
- Victim Focus - Free self-development course on caring for yourself after sexual violence.
- Rape and Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) - Written self-help advice on dealing with the effects of sexual violence.
- Galop – Sexual Violence Support Service for all LGBT+ people who have been subjected to sexual assault, violence or abuse
- LGBT Foundation provides a range of support and services for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.
- Survivors Network - Survivors Self-Help Guide