When the recent Catholic church abuse news broke feelings of shock, disgust, anguish, and anger filled many of us. What is forgotten in that mix are the victims of sexual abuse, not only by the Church but by other predators in their lives. When the media barrages us with constant news we can become numb. Sexual abuse survivors often feel re-traumatized. The media is not the only instigator to these feelings; worship sermons and even conversation with friends on the topic can also lead to flashbacks and pain.
What can we do to support our friends during these painful times? We may not even know that a person in our company is a survivor of abuse. I suggest being thoughtful with your words. Is the conversation about the scandals necessary to work through emotion or is it to provide small talk? If it is for small talk, please consider another topic. If you need to talk about the subject, could discussing how you can help those hurting from abuse or secretly hurting be a better topic? If you are a victim of abuse feeling re-traumatized, reach out to a trusted friend, family member or a therapist. You do not have to suffer alone.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, know that you are not alone. Consider joining a support group. As you heal consider the below list of ways to take care of yourself.
- Avoid media- social, television news, print news, talk radio
- Create a self care plan for an emergency. This could be visit a place that could be triggering, an unexpected conversation that triggers.
- Do not be afraid to create boundaries. Boundaries will help keep you safe.
- It is not rude to leave an uncomfortable situation to ensure your mental health.
- Exercise! It helps burn anxiety.
- Get a good night sleep. Try not to over sleep.
- Find a therapist you feel safe with and trust.
- Tap into your creativity…paint, draw, sew, sing.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Be patient with your healing. It is a marathon, not a sprint.