How To Move On From Sexual Abuse: Coping Mechanisms After A Sexual Assault
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. For those that experience rape, sexual violence, or any other form of sexual assault, recovery is never straightforward, and can sometimes take years. The effects can also be detrimental, sometimes following you into adulthood and influencing everything – from a guy’s choices on the first date to a woman’s ability to trust others.
Researchers have found that women who are survivors of sexual violence are more likely to experience and dwell on stressful life events. For male victims of sexual assault, one in 10 of them will experience trauma associated with their sexual assault, including a heightened chance of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While moving on can be difficult, there are steps you can take to help you cope with and address what happened to you. Whether it is seeking professional help or employing useful tricks to avoid triggers in your everyday life, it is possible to move on and cope with sexual abuse.
Focus On What You Can Control Daily
One of the many things sexual assault survivors struggle with is the loss of control or overpowering they felt during the event. In fact, a common reaction to sexual assault is the fear of losing control over life. This stems from not feeling in control during the incidence or having sexual acts done to them against their will. It is not uncommon for victims, both men and women, to carry that feeling with them for a long time after the assault.
The good news is that there are ways you can cope with the loss of control (or feeling of it). To tackle the feeling of helplessness, you must first learn to differentiate the things you can control – and those that you cannot. One of the things that is within your control is yourself and your actions, including the way you choose to cope with your sexual assault. Most experts recommend ways to help victims cope with the aftermath of sexual assault, but it is often up to the victim to choose how they achieve this. For instance, some may choose to focus on physical exercise to relieve their anxiety, while others can find comfort in building a strong support system.
Surround Yourself With The Right Help
The right support system can also make all the difference in how well you recover and how long it takes you to do so. If you are having trouble processing the event, it may be helpful to speak to a therapist. If you are thinking of pursuing criminal or civil charges, a sex abuse lawyer will be an invaluable resource in your fight for justice. They are also valuable sources of information for mental health referrals and advice on specific penalties for sexual assault across states.
Find A Physical Outlet For Your Grief
In a study by Rutgers University-New Brunswick, women who were sexually assaulted and experienced PTSD were more likely to have decreased negative thoughts and higher self-worth with the help of aerobic exercise and meditation. This study is just one in a long list of incidences where sexual assault survivors are turning to exercise in their recovery. Physical exercises like yoga and meditation can help survivors calm their bodies and cope with any resulting anxieties. Meanwhile, running or self-defense classes can help sexual assault survivors feel stronger and more in control of their bodies – and confident in their ability to protect themselves if threatened again. Exercise also helps your brain to release dopamine and endorphins, which can help you feel happier.
Moving on from sexual assault is not an overnight or straightforward process. While it does take time and can vary greatly from person to person, it is possible to find peace and happiness after a sexual assault. Remember that your coping mechanisms will be highly personal; these are just suggestions. Feel free to make them – and your coping journey – your own.