Being sexually assaulted is one of the most traumatic experiences you can go through in your lifetime. Regardless of the circumstances under which it happened, you need to know that what happened isn’t your fault. You don’t owe anyone an explanation and you don’t have to explain yourself or talk about what happened unless you want to.
Everyone deals with pain in their own way and you should know that whatever coping mechanism you have found is just fine. Your safety and your personal comfort should come above everyone and everything else. If you have friends you can count on and trust, you can choose how and when to talk to them about it. But the most important thing you can do right now is taking care of yourself in any way possible.
After being traumatized, it’s easy to be hard on yourself. Try to be gentle on yourself and remind yourself that every step you take towards self-care is something to be proud of. Physical self care is the easiest to forget and often the most vital to making you feel better and keeping you at your best, whatever that may be.
Take a shower and wash your hair. Make a meal, even if it’s a small one like oatmeal or cereal. Go outside on a short walk (with company, if you wish). If you’re having trouble sleeping, put on some calming music or make some tea. Sleeping and eating does wonders for healing, even if it’s all you can bring yourself to do.
Exercise if you enjoy it! If you like working out, going to the gym or finding a home workout video you can do might be an effective way to raise your endorphins and make yourself feel better. Yoga is also an excellent form of self-care, because it involves exercise, stretching, and relaxation. If you happen to be part of a gym or pay for a class membership, holding yourself accountable even to a class a week can be really helpful.
Creative outlets are an incredibly effective form of self-care. Whether you already had a special skill like painting or drawing or you’d like to take up a new one, now may be the time. Using the extra energy and pain and emotions you are going through to fuel a creative interest can prove to be extremely rewarding. Find a creative hobby that is inexpensive, like drawing, cross stitching, or writing.
Know when to leave conversations that are upsetting or triggering to you. You are not obligated to participate in any situation which leaves you feeling stressed out or reminded of your own experiences. Whether you have to physically walk away or let the person know that you are not ready to have a conversation of that type, put your own needs above anyone else’s.
Once you’re ready, you may want to consider activism or support groups. You can search online or ask your therapist or doctor about support groups in your area. Being part of a support group can give you the opportunity for a safer space where you can talk about your experience(s) and hear about others. People there know what it’s like to go through what you have been through and want to support you. Generally, they will be conscious of the way they speak and make an effort not to upset others.
Above all, please remember that you are worth taking care of. You are here for a reason. You are loved. You MATTER. And you deserve to be kind to yourself. If friends are reaching out to support you, try to accept their love and support.