It is so important to be nice to you. Treat yourself to your favorite things. Hot baths, long walks, whatever helps you feel comfortable and safe. Self-care for me also meant setting a time limit on my grief. I found myself wanting to stay in the hammock eating Milky Way candy bars and crying. I found myself there so often that nothing else got done. This thing that happened to me was consuming my life. I decided to speak with a sexual assault counselor. She suggested that I set a time limit for how long I would spend in the hammock crying each day. When my time was up, she suggested that I get up and make myself do something productive, or fun – anything. Self care for me is about honoring how I feel, feeling my feelings, AND not letting them ruin my life. It was important that I regain some sense of my own power and authority. Spending all my time grieving did not help me do that.
Talk about it
Brene Brown says this about shame: “The less we talk about it, the more we have it.” It was so important for me to talk about what happened. Self-care meant that I didn’t talk with everyone, or just anyone about it. Some people’s reaction would have been counter-productive to healing. I needed to find people who understood, people who had been there, people who cared. And, I needed to talk about it until I didn’t need to talk about it as much any more.
Call the hotline number. Find a support group in your local community or online. You might be surprised who else you know that has been through something similar. The entire time that I kept what happened to myself – because I was ashamed – because I thought I asked for it – because I thought I would be judged – the shame I felt grew large and out of proportion. When I reached out and started talking about it, I was able to begin the healing process.
One day at a time
Healing from sexual assault is a process. Some days may seem like things aren’t getting any better. Some days may seem like things are getting worse. Keep walking. One step at a time. One breath at at time, one moment at a time, one day at a time. Make it through this moment. You are stronger than you know. And, you are not alone. You have just survived another moment. Every moment and every day add to your strength.
Never doubt yourself
You are worthwhile. This was NOT your fault. You did not ask for or deserve this. It is something that happened, and not a reflection of YOU. You are beautiful and amazing – and stronger than you know. NEVER doubt yourself.
You may not want to press charges. You may change your mind later. If you haven’t showered, you may want to go to the hospital and let them perform a rape kit just in case you decide you want to press charges later. If you’ve already showered, you still may want to go to the doctor to make sure that you weren’t given a sexually transmitted disease. It is hard. I went. I went back for a couple of follow-up exams to be checked for HIV and Hepatitis. I got pissed off every time because he was done and gone and I never crossed his mind again – and I still had to deal with the aftermath. 6 months, a year later I was giving blood. Self care comes in all shapes and sizes. Your health is important. Please take care of yourself.
You may also want legal help. You may want to press charges. You may find it beneficial to have an advocate if you go to the police. You may find it very helpful to talk to a professional therapist, a rape crisis worker, a support group. Please get help.
You are not alone.