How Can You Get Back on Track After Sexual Trauma?


Sexual trauma affects one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime. As this month is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, this is a good time to think about how self-care can benefit your sexual health, and overall wellbeing, if you have been directly or indirectly affected by sexual trauma. Self-care involves respecting, valuing and having consideration for yourself, as you need to love yourself in order to grow, heal and take pride in your emotional and physical wellness.


Seeking immediate medical attention is the first step toward self-love and self-care when you have been impacted by sexual trauma. There are many places to contact, such as your doctor, local rape crisis centre or emergency room. Taking care of any internal or external medical issues can help you to prevent complications down the road. Even if some time has passed since you suffered sexual trauma, you should still get yourself checked out. There are also other aspects of physical self-care. You need to eat well to look after your body, sleep for roughly seven to 10 hours every night, and exercise. These things will work to improve your mood and increase your release of endorphins, or your brain’s “feel good” hormone.


Challenging negative thoughts can help you to feel better about yourself and change the way you view your world. Try making a list of at least three positive facts about yourself, and keep it with you at all times. Ask those you know for things to put if you get stuck – they may love something about you that you never realised about yourself before – and when a negative thought comes to mind, you can pull out this list to review your positive qualities.


On a daily basis, create and repeat positive affirmations, even if you do not feel like it. Saying something as simple as ‘I know I’ll feel better soon’ can help you experience the world in a more positive way. In a similar vein, take stock of all your daily accomplishments, and praise yourself for them every day. When you do have negative thoughts or emotions, forgive yourself for them. Shock, anger, sadness and fear are natural and common to feel if you or a loved one has experienced sexual trauma, and while it’s good to move on towards positive thinking, it’s a process which takes time and a lot of love.


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