Surviving Experiences of Sexual Violence
If you are currently being sexually abused in any way or feel that it may happen, try to tell someone you trust. If you don’t know who to tell, or you are scared about what might happen after you have told you could use our telephone helpline or email support service.
It can be difficult making that first contact but we are here to support you, we can help you look at your options and give you information on what might happens if you choose to report to the police.
We can put you in touch with services in your area if you are worried about your sexual health or pregnancy, or you need information on any other matters.
There are many women who have experienced sexual violence – you are not alone. It may have happened a long time ago, quite recently or the abuse may still be ongoing. You deserve support no matter what you experienced or when it was.
Phone a helpline
If you’re feeling depressed, worthless, hopeless, suicidal or feeling the urge to hurt yourself or somebody else, then you could use our telephone helpline or email support service.
Also seek help if you’re finding it hard to sleep, to concentrate, to enjoy the things you usually like doing or you feel that your eating patterns are becoming out of control.
Try to talk about it
It is not helpful to ask specific questions e.g. “Why didn’t you fight back, scream” etc. They might feel like you are blaming them. Try not to tell them what you would have done in their position – even if they ask you.
Don’t make comparisons
It may have happened years ago or quite recently – either way it’s important that you share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust.
Sometimes things can feel too much to cope with – all you can do is take one day at a time and don’t be too hard on yourself. It may feel like things won’t get better but they will eventually. Get whatever support you can to help you through.
It is very common to feel alone and overwhelmed by the effects of sexual violence and by other problems in our lives. It can help to talk about them and to express your feelings, whether you need to cry or get angry.
There are many positive safe ways of expressing feelings. If talking is not for you, try writing your feelings down, draw or paint a messy mixture of colours, dance or beat a drum or a pillow. If you don’t know where to begin, a supporter, our telephone helpline or email support service can give you some ideas.
Keep in touch with friends
Don’t think you have to struggle on alone. If you feel you can’t connect with people right now, tell your friends that you are going through a hard time and need their company, even if you don’t want to talk just yet. Friends are important, especially at difficult times.
Ask for help
Ask for help – whether it’s from friends, family or our specialist services. Everybody goes through difficult patches – you are not alone. .
Do things you enjoy
It can be hard to remember what we enjoy and even harder to find any energy to pursue our hobbies when we feel so low. We need the enjoyable things in life to help us cope with the hard times.
Do whatever makes you feel good or try something new that helps you relax or have fun e.g. walking and appreciating nature, singing, dancing or juggling. See if there are any women’s groups in your area that may run free classes in assertiveness, confidence & self-esteem, drumming, circus skills, drama or yoga.
Remember your rights and what you’re worth
Survivors of sexual violence can feel worthless and undeserving of care and respect as a result of their experiences. Put reminders of your rights and your worth where you can see them regularly e.g. on the mirror, your wardrobe door, in your pocket, next to your bed.
It can be difficult to believe positive things about ourselves so it is useful to write them down and keep reading them until we do believe them.
Try writing yourself a list of all your positive qualities and add them to these reminders.
- I have the right to be treated with respect.
- I have equal respect for myself and for other people.
- I have the right to say “no” to sex I don’t want.
- It’s okay for me to change my mind.
- No-one has the right to hurt me in any way.
- I can accept praise; I know I have good points.
- It’s okay for me to make mistakes – I can learn from them.
- It’s okay to express my feelings, thoughts and opinions.