The most important thing to do first, is to get safe. It might take a while to actually feel safe, but being able to think that you are safe even if you don’t feel it is the first step. If this means that you need to add some extra locks to your door, or not go out socialising for a while, or have a friend stay over with you, then do it.
Be kind and gentle with yourself – understand that this has hurt you a lot, and it might take a while to get through it, but you will.
Support from other people who understand how you might be feeling and don’t blame you is really helpful. A lot of this wound is about the betrayal by another person, so countering that with experiences of being supported goes a long way. If it feels too hard to reach out for that, then call us.
If you felt high levels of fear during the assault, then your nervous system has been badly stressed and can now feel like its over-reacting. There are things you can do to help it heal more quickly. Spend as much time in calming environments as you can – this might be things like walking on the beach, or having a bath, whatever is safe and works for you.
Our body has great powers to heal, and we can tap into that with breathing. This might need some practice, but if you can learn to breathe slow and deep with a long exhale and do this whenever you are feeling anxious or something has frightened you, then you can help your nervous system to heal.
Mindfulness can also help by stopping the thoughts and feelings which arise from the experience, from continuing to spread through our beings. It is quite commonly talked about now, as if it is an easy thing to do. But, for most people it’s not, it requires effort and practice. But if you can find ways to notice your thoughts and feelings, and then let them move on, it can help. Check out this guide to see if it can work for you.
But you do not have to figure out how to manage these responses, feelings or reactions on your own.
HELP’s counsellors can support you and help you understand what’s happening.
Research shows that the sooner you get appropriate support for yourself, like seeing a specialist counsellor, the better your chances are of healing well.
It is normal to feel scared or uncertain about counselling, so take time to find someone that you feel connected with and who and is experienced in helping people in this situation.
Learn more about what HELP’s Therapy Services has to offer.