Trauma is an experience, not an incident. It is the emotional and mental result of abnormally stressful events that overwhelm your sense of security and safety, making you feel helpless.
It can be difficult to receive notifications of an offender's potential release, see similar events portrayed on the news, or even go about your day on the yearly anniversary of the crime.
Victims/survivors of crime – and anyone who has experienced trauma – often experience long term effects of those events. The following feelings and responses are common and OVA is here to assist you.
- shock, disbelief, confusion
- grief, denial, depression
- feelings of detachment
- fatigue, nausea, dizziness
- anxiety, panic
- withdrawal from social activities, family and friends
- poor concentration and disorientation
- flashbacks or feeling like the trauma is occurring now
- headaches, lack of sleep, elevated heart rate
- difficulty experiencing common daily events
Figuring out how to take care of yourself and protect yourself when you experience these responses can help you cope in a healthy way. We call this self-care. Self-care doesn't just mean making a plan; it also means putting that plan into action. A solid self-care plan includes all of the following components so that you can choose what feels right to you in the moment.
- Emotional: Remember to honor how you feel. Being overburdened can lead to under productivity. Practice saying no in a way that you feel comfortable. Counseling can also be incredibly valuable.
- Physical: Moving your body is great for lowering stress and clearing your mind. It's important to eat healthy, exercise in some way, and get plenty of sleep.
- Personal: Spending time on a hobby or interest is an investment in yourself. This looks different for everyone, but it is important to not feel guilty about self-care.
Social: Quality time with another human being (or beings) can be rejuvenating. Invest in building relationships that bring you comfort and peace.
- Pampering: Treating yourself can be as simple as spending time doing something you enjoy that isn't easy to find time for in your normal routine.
- Household: Cleaning and organizing your space can help to declutter your brain. Don't knock it till you try it! Many people find this a soothing means of self-care.
It's important to remember that these overwhelming feelings and reactions will not be with you forever. As you invest in yourself, you will continue to grow and evolve. Life may never look like it did before, but there is a place beyond the pain.
Need some assistance? Contact OVA Monday through Friday at 800.563.6399.
Find free, virtual grief support groups here.
Print this Grounding Booklet to take with you as a reminder of how to support yourself when re-experiencing trauma.
Print these Affirmation Cards as reminders to yourself that your story matters.
Read about how to be an ally to survivors.
Crisis response services are available 24/7 – even if you are not considering suicide and just need someone to lean on for emotional support.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.8255
Nacional de Prevencion del Suicido 888.628.9454
Veterans Crisis Line 800.273.8255/ Text 838255
Options for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 800.799.4889