Warning: this article contains language concerning sexual assault, rape and sexual abuse, which may be triggering.
It’s 3:30 a.m. on a Friday night and I’m wide awake. No, it’s not because I had an especially raucous evening of dancing and drinking or even because I was up late binge-watching the latest show on Netflix; nope, I’m wide awake because, like so many other women around the world right this second…I’m scared.
Like so many of you, I too am a survivor of sexual assault and the past few days spent living through the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings have been extremely triggering. All at once, survivors around the world are re-living trauma during one of the lowest points in American political history (calls to hotlines have increased by upwards of 200% since the hearings began). Whether you are dodging trauma-insensitive news bulletins, find the surge of posts on social media to be triggering, or feel just plain scared to be a survivor in this country right now, please hear me when I say:
You are not alone and I believe you.
So, because I know in my heart that I too am not alone (and because I feel like I absolutely must do something, anything, at 3:30 in the morning to combat these feelings of pure and utter terror), I have compiled a short list of tools for survivors during this disgusting time in our nation’s history. Share ’em with your communities, talk with your loved ones, and be there for one another. Now more than ever, it is vital that we support each other and that we stand united against this kind of misogyny. We need to create an environment that is safe for everyone, and while we may be tempted to fight this fight all on our own…
The best place to start is by taking care of yourself.
Utilize Online Resources
Take advantage of free, online resources. As a certified rape counselor and advocate, these are a few that I have personally used and often refer clients and loved ones to:
- RAINN (Rape Abuse Incest National Network)
- BARCC (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center) – I worked as a legal advocate with these folks and they are superb. While they only provide in-person services for those living in the Greater-Boston area, their website is filled with helpful resources for all survivors
- Exhale to Inhale – provides trauma-informed yoga classes to survivors as well as online resources for seeking help in your community
- 1in6 – online support and resources specifically for male survivors
- Forge – online support for non-binary and/or trans survivors
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- The Network La Red – support for LGBTIQ survivors
Call a Hotline
- Call RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673)
- Connect to a trained counselor via RAINN’s secure Online Hotline
- Call a Local Hotline by searching for shelters and resources specifically in your state here
Limit Social Media Time
Your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds may feel like a minefield of trauma-insensitive information right now. If you are feeling overwhelmed or triggered in any way, it is perfectly okay to delete these apps for as long as you need to. Your safety is the most important thing right now and always.
Speak Your Truth
Many survivors (myself included) have felt compelled to speak their own truths in the wake of Dr. Ford’s heroic testimony. If you wish to share your own story (but only if you are comfortable doing so – your survivor story is no less important if you are not at a point in your own healing journey to share), then please do so in a trauma-conscious way. This means:
- ALL posts must come with a trigger warning similar to the one I posted at the very beginning of this article. This empowers survivors by giving us the option to continue reading or skip ahead if we wish to do so.
- Limit triggering language and explicit content.
- Post to reputable platforms, when possible.
- Consider sharing your story with an outreach initiative such as RAINN’s Speakers Bureau
Give Yourself Permission to Not Be Okay Right Now
Most importantly, please do not get down on yourself for feeling this way. Whatever you are feeling in the wake of this horrific time is perfectly okay. It is okay to not be okay. We are here for you, we believe you, and we stand with you.