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"One year ago, I locked my door and went to sleep; like we all do on any given night. Unfortunately, this night was like no other before and was one I will never be able to forget. I woke up that night to a co-worker who had undressed himself, crawled into my bed and raped me. "
Kathleen, rape survivor

Rape is a crime, talking about it isn't. SPEAK.

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Self Care for Survivors

       Traumatic events like rape, incest, sexual assault and sexual abuse can leave victims feeling powerless and overwhelmed with emotions that can range from confusion, to fear, to anger, to frustration, and grief.

Survivors may experience these feelings immediately after the incident or many years later.

No matter how long ago it happened, you are not alone and you are allowed to feel the pain.

The following are suggestions and ideas to help you relax and reduce stress as you recover and heal from the assault.

  • Go for a walk
    If you feel safe, take a walk. Even 5 minutes of fresh hair can improve your mood and release the tension.

  • Journal about your thoughts
    Release the feelings of all the changes in your life and put your thoughts on paper to better understand them yourself.

  • Call someone you trust
    Often hearing the sound of a familiar and comforting voice can help you feel better.

  • Take a warm bath
    Soaking in warm water can help to soothe your body and your mind.

  • Have a cup of herbal tea
    Visit the tea section in your local health food store and choose from a variety of teas specifically blended to help soothe and promote tranquility.

  • Read a book or a magazine you love
    Read a book or an article you feel positive about and that gives you a sense of accomplishment with each passing chapter or page.

  • Workout at the gym
    Exercise helps relieve depression and feel better by increasing endorphin production and release from the brain.

  • Volunteer
    You can use your pain to make the difference in the lives of others who have gone through similar experiences. If you feel comfortable volunteering for a rape crises center, you can train to become a sexual assault advocate and help other survivors heal and receive the support they deserve. If you are not yet comfortable working with victims of sexual violence, you can volunteer in a variety of other fields and still make a difference in the lives of these less fortunate. Using your voice to advocate for others can be one of the most powerful steps you take in your recovery.

There are also unhealthy coping mechanisms survivors of rape and sexual assault may be especially vulnerable to. While pain and distress may at times be very strong, the following ways to cope may be dangerous for your physical and emotional health.

  • Using alcohol or drugs to numb out emotions of pain, shame, anger, and frustration.

  • Developing eating disorders and using food for comfort and stress relief.

  • Blaming yourself for the attack.

  • Seeking out unsafe situations and/or relationships for an unconscious need to self-punish.

© 2007 After Silence - Message board and chat room for rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse victims and survivors. - This article may not be reprinted or reproduced without express permission.


This site is offered for support of other rape and sexual abuse survivors. It is not meant to be a substitute for any kind of professional help.
If you are in a crisis situation we urge to contact your local rape crisis center or health care professional.

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