Unfortunately, the 2016 election season has become filled with material that is potentially triggering to sex assault survivors. I hear from many of my clients that they are struggling to cope. If you are feeling like living in our world these days is a minefield, here are some quick tips to help protect yourself:
1. You don’t have to pay attention to the news cycle. Sometimes it’s better to avoid the media altogether. Some people I know are taking a vacation from devices and other news sources. If you still want to stay informed about recent developments, perhaps you can have someone you trust pick and choose the news you tune into, or provide a safe summary to you, so you can avoid being blindsided by triggering content.
2. Seek support. Let the people who care about you know it’s a hard time for you. If you know what helps you, let them know too. Perhaps tell them that you’ve been triggered by recent news, and would appreciate some help distracting yourself from those hard topics. If you don’t have close supporters, maybe seek support online at a PTSD forum or hotline. RAINN has an online hotline at hotline.rainn.org.
3. Develop a statement to use when people start talking about triggering things. For example, maybe you can be prepared, if the water cooler talk turns toward triggering material, to say something like, “Hey, I am really trying to avoid this topic. Let’s talk about something else. Have you seen The Secret Life of Pets?”
4. Carve out extra time to calm your activated nervous system. Remember what has worked for you in the past. Maybe it’s time to go back to that yoga class you used to love, or to take a walk in nature, or to give your dog some extra petting.
5. Support your physical body. It’s easier to become overwhelmed when we haven’t had enough sleep, or haven’t been eating well, or if we’re dehydrated, or not getting enough exercise.
6. Here’s an extra bonus tip: Go easy on yourself. This is an especially tough time for survivors. You are not alone in feeling this way. Give yourself permission and space to feel however you feel. I am hoping and praying with you that things will get easier soon.