Content/ Trigger Warning: nothing graphic, mention of words: sexual assault, abuse, rape, victim, trauma, complacency, rape apology.
In April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is honored. This can be an empowering, validating, and triggering time for victims and survivors. As a self-identified survivor, I am going to be answering this question personally and based on how I navigate through this month because I believe in autonomy and I do not want to say this is how we all should proceed- some ideas on how I proceed.
I will start this by sharing a post I created at the beginning of the month of my favorite trauma-informed and victim/survivor-centered accounts. These folks should be amplified all year long for the affirming and space that they hold- especially during SAAM.
Most, if not all, my work is centered around being trauma-informed, a victim/survivor advocate, and reclaiming autonomy and sensuality after trauma. I focus on these aspects in my personal, professional, artistic, research, and educational life and spaces. I have volunteered for the Rape, Abuse, Incest Nation Network (RAINN) for almost two years and I am currently completing a Federal Work-Study (FWS) with them. Most of my crisis interventionist and sexual assault advocacy training and knowledge were completed through them.
There is no correct way how to proceed with this month. I usually start with a self-care plan and it goes out the window because it can be extremely difficult and exhausting to control how I am going to feel. I have learned to give up that control and start to listen to what my body needs at that moment. How can I best support myself right now? What is one kind thing I can do for myself right now? Hint hint: right now.
Being present with myself is how I heal and honor myself during this month and I try to do it every month. I hold space for myself and forgive myself. I continue to unlearn all the victim-blaming, rape apology, and complacency that I have said to myself and believed from others. I journal and process these emotions if that is what my body and energy are wanting at that moment. I try not to disassociate during these times- and I forgive myself if I do.
Some self-care activities that I might hold for myself this month:
- Creating art
- movement - any kind my body is open to receiving and participating in
- Filling my space up with my favorite grounding music and scents
- Ritualistic pleasure
- Getting fresh air in a safer and socially distanced environment and way
- Loving up on my plants
- Grounded breathing
- Saying affirmations to myself
- Forgiving myself
- Holding space for myself if I need to use survival skills and coping during this time
This is a list of potential ways I will proceed during SAAM. I might discover new ways to cope and practice self-care along the way. I feel like I’m constantly learning how to best support myself at the moment. I never “throw-away” an idea on self-care because it may be beneficial for me in the future. Healing is not linear and there is no time-line or book on how to heal. I feel it is about listening to what your body and energy need at the moment and how you can best support that.
*I hold spaces for victims and survivors all year long for a sliding scale which can be booked via my website. Some of the accounts I shared earlier in the article, also hold space for survivors and victims at a sliding scale. I also suggest utilizing RAINN’s anonymous chat services to process emotions and feelings that arise and how to safety plan and brainstorm ways of self-care and navigating spaces.