Managing Trauma Impact


What can I do to cope with sexual trauma if I don’t have access to professional help and don’t live in a healthy or stable environment?


Thank you for reaching out. I am so sorry you're going through this. You deserve to feel safe, supported, and able to heal, even if those things feel impossible right now. The fact that you're dealing with this trauma on top of a difficult living environment is so much for one person to carry. But please know that you're not alone, and there are still ways to care for yourself and work towards recovery, even in these challenging circumstances.

Your safety is the top priority. If you're currently in an abusive or dangerous situation, I hope you'll consider reaching out for help. If you're a minor, is there a trusted adult like a teacher, counselor, or relative you could tell? You can also contact child protective services, who can work with you to find a safer living arrangement. If you're an adult, look into local domestic violence organizations or call a sexual assault hotline to discuss your options. You don't deserve to be in harm's way, and there are people who want to help you get to a better situation.

In the meantime, there are coping strategies you can use to tend to your mental and emotional health. Trauma symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, and dissociation can make you feel disconnected from the present moment and your own body. Grounding techniques can help you find your way back. Try focusing on your breath, noticing the details of your environment through each of your senses, or even holding onto a comforting object. Be your own scientist and experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you.

It's also so important to validate your own feelings. Remind yourself that your emotions are real and valid, even the messy, uncomfortable, or frightening ones. You're not "crazy," "dramatic," or "broken." You're a person who has endured something horrific, and you're experiencing normal reactions to trauma. Try to talk to yourself like you would a good friend, with compassion and understanding. You're doing the best you can.

In addition to positive and compassionate self-talk, look for other outlets to help you express and process your emotions. Journaling can be a powerful way to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and onto paper. Art, music, and movement are also great tools for releasing pent-up emotions and tapping into your body's resilience. Engaging in activities you enjoy, even small ones, can remind you that you're more than your trauma and can still find sources of comfort and joy.

Building a support system is another key part of coping with trauma. If you have friends, a trusted adult, or loved ones you trust, lean on them as much as you feel comfortable. You don't have to share anything you're not ready to, but let them be there for you in whatever way feels safe. If you don't have supportive people in your life, you can still find validation and connection through calling a trauma hotline or posting in an online forum for survivors like on our stories page. Sharing your story and learning from the stories of others can help you feel less alone. In particular, read some of the positive messages other survivors have shared with our community. They are there for people like you who may be struggling.

Self-education can be very empowering too. The more you understand about trauma, abuse, and the process of healing, the more equipped you'll be to navigate your own experiences. Look for books, articles, and websites from reputable sources to learn more. Recognizing common trauma responses and symptoms can help you make sense of what you're going through and reduce feelings of shame and self-blame.

As much as possible, try to take care of your physical health as well. Trauma profoundly impacts the body and brain. Eating regularly, staying hydrated, moving your body in gentle ways, and getting enough rest can all aid in regulating your nervous system and increasing your window of tolerance. Even basic acts of physical self-care are powerful ways to show yourself compassion.

Most importantly, please hold onto hope. Your current situation is not your forever situation. The abuse and trauma you've endured do not define you. You're a whole person with inherent worth and strength, and you have the capacity to heal, even if the path forward feels daunting. Take things one day, one hour, one breath at a time. Reach out for any support that's available to you, and know that you don't have to do this alone. I'm so sorry you're going through this, and I'm sending you all my care from afar. You will get through this. Thank you for reaching out to us. You matter.

Salida de seguridad