Reclaiming back power and self-determination is important for recovery and healing after sexual assault or abuse. Regardless of where you are in your healing process, there are a variety of things you can do to take back some power, and a good way of doing this is to look after yourself. Self-care is important, and in addition to accessing support for yourself and having any medical needs attended to, we encourage you to take some time out to do some things you enjoy and things you are good at.
Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, these are just some of the ways you can practice self-care. What is important is that you try to do something when you can, that focuses on you and things that can lift your spirits. You have been through a terrible ordeal and the important thing is that you focus on you a make self-care a priority, because you deserve it!
You may also want to see Impacts and Effects of Sexual Assault for more information.
Spending Time With Friends and Loved Ones
Keeping in touch and spending time with friends and loved ones, whether it is face to face, over the phone, via email or through Facebook, Twitter or other electronic means, can help with staying connected and is a good way of looking after yourself.
There might be some friends who about your experience of sexual assault or abuse who have been there for you and who understand some of the challenges you have faced and who you feel comfortable being around. On the other hand, there may be some friends who do not know what has happened to you and them not knowing brings a sense of comfort, and you can enjoy their company and do things together which bring some lightness to your day.
Simple Things You Can Do At Home
There are some simple things you can do at home to take care of yourself. You could watch some of your favorite or new movies or television series. You could read a good book or listen to your favorite music. You could do some cooking or bake something delicious. You might like to take a long bath, shower or foot bath or spend some time doing your nails, hair or choose clothing which makes you feel good about yourself.
Exercise and Spending Time Outdoors
Looking after your body and connecting with it can be a powerful way of taking back some control. Doing some exercise such as walking, running, going to the gym, bike riding or even doing some stretches at home can all be good ways to spend some time with yourself and connect in positive ways with your body.
On the other hand you may prefer to do some exercise with someone you trust, or even consider trying something new like joining a cycling or walking group, or doing something a bit different such as roller skating, dragon boating or other team sports. Regular exercise is not only healthy for your body, but it can assist with reducing sleep disturbance and is also good for your psychological well being.
Spending time outdoors can be another good way to take some time out for yourself. You may like to take some to observe nature, the flowers, plants and insects in your or other people’s gardens. Take note of the weather, plant a tree or do some gardening. Go on a walk somewhere such as one of the lakes in Canberra and observe the birds and wildlife.
There are so many ways to express yourself. Sing your favorite song or make one up! Dance around your house, draw something, so some craft, do some knitting, play an instrument, learn something new.
Some survivors find writing is a powerful way to express their thoughts, feelings and insights. Have you thought about keeping a journal where you can write about your frustrations, your anger, your sadness, your fears and all the other emotions you are experiencing as well as your goals and hopes? Writing about your journey can be very therapeutic.
Some survivors keep a notebook or visual diary and paste pictures such as cut outs from magazines, draw pictures or write poetry in it. Journaling can be a safe way of expressing yourself and you might like to consider finding a special and private place to keep your journal when you are not using it.
There are so many things you could do like spend time with a loved pet, eat regular meals and food which makes you feel good. Get active in the community or get involved in events you feel passionate about, such as Reclaim the Night. Treat yourself to a manicure or a massage, go and watch a new movie at the cinema, have a cup of tea, coffee or another beverage you like and drink it slowly, noticing the fragrance and sensation as you drink it.
Keep in Mind…
Keep in mind it is normal to have times that you feel okay and times that you do not. It is normal to have days when you can face what has happened and days you feel you cannot get through another moment. Recovery from sexual assault trauma is about helping you to get your life back to a place where you feel like you are in control of you. Beginning to do some self care is a good place to start, even if it means that you do one thing for a few minutes and build on it on the good days.