Coping Mechanisms for Sexual Assault Survivors
I am no doctor—just a young woman that has experienced multiple sexual assaults and today considers herself to be self-confident, empowered, and balanced. Finding my inner strength after each assault was incredibly challenging. Over the past few months, with the rise of the #MeToo movement and my learning of many of my friends’ own sexual assault experiences, I decided it was past time to share my post-assault coping mechanisms. My purpose is to transform victims of sexual assault into strong survivors and fierce fighters. With that, my coping mechanisms:
2. Smash pumpkins/squash with a baseball bat.
You heard me correctly. One of the most therapeutic things I did after my first major assault was drive out to an empty field with ten acorn squash and a baseball bat. It really helps with pent-up anger. Picture your abuser and beat the sh*t out of them—and you do not have to pick up the remains after because they will decompose!
3. Dive into something you are extremely passionate about.
4. Talk with real people.
5. Allow yourself to breakdown.
This one is huge, especially since many of us are raised to bottle in our feelings and not to cry. Do not hold in those bubbling emotions that you cannot name. There are A LOT of them and they need to be expressed. Trauma causes high stress, and crying is a natural way to release that stress.
7. Tell yourself it was NOT your fault.
8. Tell someone else your inner monologue.
The biggest battle in recovery is battling your own mind. Telling a close friend exactly what you are thinking about yourself and getting their input can really put things in perspective and help you balance your thoughts.
9. Find ways to laugh.
I know there are days where it seems impossible, but laughter counteracts negative feelings, especially anger and fear. Being with friends, going to improv shows, playing games...whatever it takes, find ways to laugh.
10. Report your assault to the proper authorities.
This will take a huge load off your chest, and is an active step toward making sure your assailant does not do it again. You do not have to press charges, but at least put that person on their radar in case they do happen to do it again.
To each and every woman, man, child, and gender-nonconforming person that has ever been sexually assaulted, I am so sorry this happened to you. It was not your fault. This world needs you now, more than ever, to find your inner strength. This is an issue that needs to be tackled from two sides—education/prevention, and helping victims to become strong survivors. The stronger we become individually, the more we can help one another, and pass that strength along to the many who need it.