Surviving sexual trauma often has its consequences, one of the most common being mental health issues. Anxiety and stress are two of the most common mental health issues amongst sexual trauma survivors.
There are many reasons why:
The feeling of “this body is no longer mine”,
Many survivors feel like the control and power over their own bodies is taken from them by the perpetrator, which causes a lack of connection with their self, ultimately leading to anxiety.
It could happen again...
According to GoodTherapy, many victims develop agoraphobia and fear leaving their homes in the worry that a sexual traumatic event may happen again.
Lack of trust
Many victims find trusting others extremely difficult, especially if the perpetrator is someone they know, and this lack of trust causes severe anxiety.
Memories coming back to haunt me…
Our minds are not the only ones with memory, our bodies also hold memories, which can be easily triggered, and when they are triggered, these memories can bring severe stress
Fear of abandonment…
GoodTherapy explain that sexual trauma survivors may also develop fear of abandonment which is a common sign of stress.
So, how can you decrease anxiety and stress levels?
One of the most effective techniques is grounding.
Grounding is a mindful exercise in which you focus your mind on realities, for example what is happening in your body or your surroundings.
This is a way of reducing the “What ifs?” that come with anxiety and increasing the thoughts of what is actually happening in the current moment.
Likewise, grounding enables you to be present in the moment and reduces the worrying of things that have happened or may happen.
The more you practice grounding, the quicker and easier it is to find calm and reduce anxiety and stress.
Grounding is often linked to our senses, because they can immediately connect you to the present moment.
The five senses include: sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell. By focussing on these senses, it makes it easier to distract yourself from the anxious thoughts.
Ultimately it exchanges “What if?” to “What can?”…
What can I smell? What can I feel? What can I taste? What can I hear? What can I see?
So, next time you find yourself facing your triggers, having flashbacks, feeling anxious, or stressed… try grounding yourself using your senses.