Everyone reacts and feels differently after going through a traumatic event. You might feel lots of different feelings all jumbled up inside you, or you might think you’re feeling nothing at all. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ feeling or reaction.
“Sometimes, with no warning or reason, I suddenly feel panicky and can’t breathe properly. I’m too scared to go out on my own these days.”
“When I realised that what my dad was doing to me was wrong, I felt so dirty, guilty and ashamed.”
“I hate it when someone says nice things about me. I think they’re lying. I think I’m worthless. I hate myself.”
“I always think that my friends would never want to be close to me if they ever found out about the rape. I just feel so different from everyone else.”
“I remember spending days on my own feeling sad and just crying my eyes out… I felt I’d nothing to live for.”
“I had nobody to talk to. Sometimes it felt like I was going mad. I’ve never felt so alone.”
“I find it difficult to sleep and when I do I get nightmares and wake up feeling very upset.”
“As a man I feel I should have been able to fight back. I feel weak and inadequate, like I’m not a real man any more.”
“Sometimes I get flashbacks that take me back to the place and time that it happened….The memory comes back to me so strongly that I can get physically sick.”
Remembering and believing it happened
Sometimes it can seem easier to pretend that the rape or abuse never happened. As painful as it can be to remember and accept that it did, it can nonetheless be the first important step towards healing.
Discovering and accepting your feelings
To go forward it’s important to take your time discovering your feelings and accepting them.
Throwing away the guilt
It is very common to feel guilty after being raped or abused. Remember that you are never the one to blame, nor should you feel ashamed about what happened.
Making yourself ‘Number One’
You might have been so busy worrying about other people’s feelings that you forgot about yourself. Learn to like yourself again and put yourself first.
Create a safe space for yourself where you can be alone if you need to, or have someone who cares there for you when you need some support.
Have comforting routines that you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed, such as listening to your favourite music, having a bubble bath or making yourself a warm drink.
Take care of your body, and make sure you eat well and get enough sleep and exercise.
Talk about it. When thoughts stay in your head they can feel all muddled and overwhelming. It can be a relief to be able to talk about them to someone who believes and supports you.
Write it down. Jot down what’s going through your head. Get yourself a diary with a lock or use scraps of paper and throw them away when you’re done. Write a letter to the person who abused you. You don’t have to send it.
Draw or paint. If talking is difficult, sometimes it helps to use art to express yourself. Don’t worry about how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ it is.
Physical activities such as going to the gym, swimming, running, dancing or even pounding on pillows can sometimes help you to feel better.
Asking for help
As a survivor of sexual violence it can be very hard to just forget about what has happened, no matter how hard you try. As part of the healing process, breaking the silence and talking about your thoughts and feelings can help.
Taking this step can be the beginning of regaining control over your own life and moving on. Even if it happened a long time ago, your feelings are still important.
Speak to someone you trust
If you don’t want to talk to your family members or friends about your experience you can contact us at the STAR Project on 0131 556 9437. We will listen to you, believe you and support you.
Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone.