Recovering from sexual violence or trauma
Support and advice for those recovering from sexual violence or trauma
If you have been subjected to sexual violence or trauma you may be concerned about the impact it will have on you.
Everybody responds differently to traumatic experiences. Some may experience sadness, low mood and anger, others may feel numb or distracted. It is important to start from a place of self-compassion and remember that there is nothing wrong with you and the way you feel is completely valid. You may go through these emotions for a short time or you may not experience them until later in your recovery.
Whilst being subjected to a traumatic experience does change you and has an impact on you – it does not stop you from being who you are. You are a whole person, you are more than what has happened to you and you have a future ahead of you.
Recovery is not linear; you may have bad days, but that does not mean you will not have good days too. The following activities can help to aid recovery and can be used at any time in your recovery, whether this is in the short term or in the months and years after.
Start with the basics
Make sure you are eating enough, drinking enough water and exercising and resting when it is needed. Exercise can help to soothe your nervous system, relieve stress and help you feel empowered. However, it is also important to ensure you are also giving yourself time to rest when needed. Remember to go easy on yourself, don’t pressure yourself into doing regular exercise if you are not feeling up to it.
Connect with people you trust
It is common for some people to feel isolated and disconnected from others, and you may feel tempted to withdraw from your social activities and your loved ones. However, support from people you trust is vital for your recovery. Talk to those who will be supportive, empathetic and calm, and remember that support doesn’t always mean you have to talk about or dwell on what happened. Having fun and enjoying yourself with people who care about you can also help you heal.
Join a support group
If you do not feel like your loved ones are able to provide the support you need, consider joining a support group for sexual violence survivors. Connecting with others who have similar experiences to you can help you feel less isolated and alone.
Be kind to yourself
Take the time you need to rest and restore your body’s balance. Consider what activities will work for you – reading, journaling or creating something might help you to feel calmer. Think about the media you are consuming and avoid programmes or films that could trigger you. Try to avoid alcohol and drugs as this can worsen many symptoms of trauma including depression and social isolation.
Seek professional support
There are a range of services that can help you with your recovery.
You may feel like you would benefit from talking to a counsellor. The University has its own counselling service available to students and you can get in touch with the service. If you would prefer to speak to someone outside of the University you can get in touch with a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. The closest one to Loughborough is Juniper Lodge or, if you are not based in Loughborough, you can find out where your closest centre is.
There are also online resources that can offer support for your recovery, including:
- Victim Focus’s free ‘Caring for yourself after sexual violence’ course
- Rape Crisis’ Tools to help you cope
- Consent Collective’s ‘Support for me’ channel – You can sign up to this resource for free using your University email address