Sexual trauma is a shockingly common experience in today’s society. One in five women and one in 71 men experience sexual assault at some point in their lives (NSVRC). If you have experienced sexual trauma or sexual assault, know you are not alone. You can heal from this experience and enjoy a fulfilling life. You deserve to heal.
At Sherman Counseling in Green Bay, WI, we offer personalized trauma counseling for sexual assault victims. You can work one-on-one with a trusted, compassionate counselor in your area to overcome the emotional obstacles of trauma. Here are some tips to help you heal after sexual trauma so you can move forward to a better quality of life.
Eliminate Guilt and Put the Blame Where It Belongs
After a sexual trauma, many victims find ways to blame themselves. “I should have done more to stop it.” “I shouldn’t have let that person into my life.” There is nothing wrong with trying to find accountability, but in this instance, you are not to blame. No matter what the circumstances are, someone else took advantage of you. You did not ask for it to happen, and you did not deserve to be put through that. You did all you could in the moment, and you should not feel guilty or ashamed about your actions.
Talk to Someone You Can Trust
You may feel the need to hide your sexual trauma for fear of judgement. No one who truly cares about you will judge you for the circumstances. A bad thing happened to a good person. Now that good person needs to heal. Talk to a friend, a family member, or a trauma counselor about the abuse. You don’t have to tell the whole story all at once – only what you feel comfortable with. As you heal and recovery, you will be able to open up more about your experiences.
Be Aware of Trauma Triggers
After a sexual trauma, you may react to seemingly normal situations in an unexpected way. For instance, if the trauma happened after a dinner date, you may feel a sense of anxiety about going out to eat. You may only feel that way about a certain restaurant or a certain part of town, or the whole idea of dining out could trigger a response.
Acknowledge these triggers when you experience them, and talk about them during your trauma counseling sessions. Your counselor may tell you to avoid your triggers altogether at first, but slowly you will learn how to cope with them. Simply being aware of your potential reaction will reduce the chance of an anxiety attack. You’re mentally prepared for what’s to come, and you feel calmer as a result of that.
Be Prepared for Panic Attacks and Learn How to Control Them
Panic attacks are common among sexual trauma victims. They can be quite scary at the time because your heart is racing, your breathing is rapid, and your mind becomes cloudy and disoriented. Here are some quick steps to stop a panic attack:
- Tell yourself that you’re having a panic attack. This reframes your train of thought and helps you get in the mindset of healing.
- Focus on your breathing. Breathe in for four seconds, hold it, and then breathe out for four seconds. Repeat this to slow your heartrate.
- Ground yourself by identifying 5 things in the room you recognize. Your hairbrush, your favorite pillow, your coffee cup – these are all sources of comfort during a panic attack.
- Continue your breathing exercises until the panic attack is over.
- Try to identify the source of the panic attacks so you can be better prepared in the future.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a trauma counselor in Green Bay, WI, call Sherman Counseling at 920-544-5294.