Self-care is an art, one that we often are not good at in this culture
Women are particularly bad at this as they are typically busy nurturing others. Understand that it is not selfish to put your needs above the needs of those around you. You have to do this to survive. The physical injuries are often the easiest to recover from. The emotional and mental injuries are the hardest and often the ones that your support group may struggle to identify or understand. It is hard for someone to know how to help a victim so we have addressed that in a different section. Please don’t hesitate to suggest those close to you read this site especially the Victim Care, Care for Others section and blog posts.
Create a group that you may call on at any time. Have friends or family on notice that they may receive a call from you and let them know ways in which you want them to respond. This can be very difficult. Asking for help is hard when you already feel so vulnerable and weak. If your request is rejected it stings more than it would under normal circumstances. A list of friends to email, text or call can be a life saver. Some things to ask for – company, bring food to you, spend the night, run errands with you, help you prepare meals for the week, help you come up with a list of what you need to do each week, make decisions about how to make your home safer.
Contact your local police department and ask them if they can patrol your area more frequently. Let them know your situation, provide a photo of the predator, and let them know what hours of the day or night that you feel most vulnerable. For many people it will be the time of day the incident occurred.
Think of what brings you joy and do it, even if modified:
I love being social however I did not feel safe away from my house. I did it but I always felt safer at home. So I started a book club, a Bible study and volunteered to have small groups from church meet in my house. It kept me active after work and kept people around me in my home. I had lots of parties on the weekends and invited people to bring movies and pot luck to camp out or binge watch a show. Do be careful to research the shows as you will be shocked at what may trigger you. Even seemingly safe movies can have scenes with violence or some traumatic event that may trigger you. Let your friends know that you may have to request that a movie or show be stopped because it is too hard to watch. This will vary with each person and each incident.
Don’t isolate. Some people tend to isolate when they feel bad. Surround yourself with as much laughter, uplifting and hopeful people, music, movies, and books as possible. I even made jokes with friends to occasionally lighten things up and help them feel more at ease about what happened to me. Remember that what happened to us did not happen in a vacuum. All those that we know and love will feel a trickle-down effect. It will shock them to the core and they may struggle with their own sense of safety and – as a result- try to down play what happened to you in order to make themselves believe they live in a world where these type things don’t happen.
Care for Others
Consider what you would do for a friend who has suffered the death of a love one. The same type of care would be appropriate here. Be with them. Listen. Sit with them. Listen. Walk with them, get them moving and, if they are ready, out of the house. Listen. Get Sunshine on their face. Listen. Do you get it? Listening and sharing words of comfort and understanding.
Help them feel safe again. Whatever that looks like. Share rides to work, ask them if you can go to the grocery with them, run errands with them, and help them get back in to daily life but with support with them. It is hard to understand how scary it can be going to the grocery store. I didn’t go without a gun in my purse for years.
Food. People in extreme trauma don’t think about basic needs. They are struggling just to get decent sleep, shower and try to survive each day. Food becomes superfluous. It is almost too much trouble to think about. Good nutrition is a key to help recover. Trauma is like recovering from the flu, it affects the body as well as the mind. You can connect with friends and family to schedule taking meals to your loved one that is recovering. Make it as easy as possible, take them in individual portions, and provide as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible. Find out their favorite snacks and bring them to them.
Ask them what they need. If they don’t know, and likely they won’t, then provide them with food, a funny movie, a book, and gift card for a massage etc… They will know you are trying and that is worth its weight in gold. The last thing they need is to feel that they are going through this alone.
Creating a Safety Plan
In May we will be working with self-protection experts to provide you with helpful tips in creating safety plans at home, work and in the car. It will not take a long time to create safety plans and they could save you significant harm if they are ever needed. Remember safety plans are useful for a variety of events unrelated to crime such as: natural disasters, car wrecks, accidents inside the home. Please return to this page as we continue to develop this area.