The Most Effective Ways To Respond To Sexual Abuse Triggers
For the past few years, in the media, there's been a tremendous spotlight on inappropriate sexual conduct, and sexual abuse, primarily with cis and non-cis women. In addition to stressors in your everyday life experiences, you may have experienced a trigger from hearing these stories of abuse, which may have left you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, afraid, and powerless. You are not alone. Countless women experience these emotions - linked to sexual abuse trauma - everyday. Recently I had a client who went into deep fear, and anxiety from the trigger of her abuser coming by the home she's temporarily living in to visit with another family member.
My commitment to all women, in situations like this, is to assist you in the most powerful, and uplifting way to move through the experience as emotionally grounded and secure as possible, or, if you 'need' to fall apart in that moment, you're still armed with wellness tools to assist you back up.
Triggers are positive.
Yes, my friend, triggers help us to see what upsetting emotions, thoughts, and beliefs we're still holding onto.
By definition, triggers are sensations, images, experiences that 'bring up' a traumatic memory. There are times when pain goes 'underground', or becomes quiet, and you can't feel, or see it, so you think it's gone or healed.
When a trigger occurs, you have this amazing opportunity to acknowledge, and address buried pain - gradually, or in one complete step.
One of the first things to do is to check in with yourself. Assess your emotions: Why am I crying out of the blue? Why do I suddenly feel angry/pissed off? Continue reading below. I have some really great wellness recommendations for you on how to address this.
All the power you need is within you...and these can help too!
When faced with a trigger of the sexual abuse trauma, please know, first of all, that all the power and courage you need to respond is all right there within you.
I know it may not always feel that way, but you embody the strength to call upon whatever you need to address the triggered upset. And, I do mean literally call upon - as in verbally say: 'Strength, I call upon you to get me through this'. When in the midst of a triggered emotion, allow these additional resources to be a source of support for you: ~ Check in with your breathing. Feeling fearful and anxious can cause breathing to be shortened, in which you're only breathing in the very top part of your lungs, instead of breathing in oxygen throughout your entire lungs.
If you're breathing is labored, change it. Take deep breaths in and out. This has the power to immediately re-set the takeover of fear and anxiety.
~ It may be best to leave the environment for a few hours, a day, or longer. No, you're not running away. You're removing yourself from what feels like an emotionally unsafe space.
With my client, she stayed in the space as she was going through the trigger, and while she was able to get through it, with tools she learned from our sessions, she wished she had left the home for a few hours to allow herself to be in a healthier environment.
Do the things that bring you joy, peace, and all the happiness you can feel to remind you that you're safe, and that love is always available to you. These can include: ~ Going to the park, and getting on the swing. ~ Calling, or meeting up with your most trusted friend(s) or family member(s).
~ Exercise - choose options that are easy on your body, yet still strong enough to transmute the pain. ~ Put on a comedy and LAUGH!!
~ Create a safe, private space to cry, to be angry (and speak out loud) to release the pain, while affirming to yourself: 'I will get through this!'
~ During this time, you may feel most tempted to indulge in 'comfort food'. And as you know, most comfort food are those with processed sugar, fats, etc. Eat food that feel good/healthy to your body.
~ Get the emotions on paper - write down all the upsetting emotions that have surfaced. After you've written them, close your entry by writing: 'No matter what comes to the surface I choose to love myself, and remember that I am safe'. This positive statement will shift the fear into a place of optimism, and position you as master over the upsetting emotions. ~ Enjoy quality, playful time with a child or children as they can remind you that your pure innocence is still alive - no matter what you've gone through.
May you use these tools as some of your greatest support to get you through - with gentleness and courage - whatever pain that presents itself. Please share this with a woman friend, sister, co-worker... who could benefit from this nurturing information. Over to you: What are some of the gentle, positive ways you respond to sexual abuse triggers? ~N
p.s. If emotional, physical, and mental pain from sexual abuse trauma is something you're struggling with, and feel professional assistance would best serve you, I invite you to learn about Rebirth - a program that assists and supports you to heal the pain in a way that feels easier. Enrollment is now open to 2 women. Learn more here.