If you’ve been sexually assaulted, you know it can leave you feeling empty, violated, out of touch, and maybe even a little sick. In fact, you might find yourself constantly distracted, scared of your environment, or questioning the intentions of people all around you. Daily activities—like school studies, work, or even hanging out with your friends—might start to feel impossible. If you find yourself struggling throughout the day, here are some tips that might make life just a little bit easier in this difficult time.

  1. Get Creative
    Take some time throughout your day and draw, paint, play music, or write. Use creativity as an outlet for negative emotions that might be building up inside. Find a safe space and, instead of holding onto them, let all those feelings out, no matter how dark they may be.

  2. Exercise
    When recovering from something like sexual assault, you might feel like locking yourself inside. Fight this--get outside! Walk, hike, run, or ride your bike. Exercise produces endorphins in your brain that reduces stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions, which will make recovery at least a little bit easier. Plus, it can also help you sleep better.

  3. Find Support
    Let your family and friends know you’re struggling. Loved ones can become the most valuable tools when you’re healing. However, if confiding in them isn’t an option, reach out to a local support group. RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, has a website (www.rainn.org) to find your nearest service provider, and also has a hotline for sexual assault survivors.

  4. Keep Busy
    Although it might sound more appealing to stay in bed and sleep, sometimes the best medicine is going out and doing things. Isolation is a slippery slope that can often make negative feelings worse. Go hang out with your best friends, go do some chores, or simply sit in a coffee shop full of people.

  5. Get Enough Sleep
    Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. A lack of sleep can worsen negative emotions like anxiety. Since you may find yourself struggling to fall asleep, try things like chamomile tea or meditation before you go to bed. Stay away from TV, especially before bed. Surround yourself with peace, and it can help you fight sleeplessness.

  6. Unplug
    Sometimes social media and constant news coverage can weigh us down; they can even be potentially triggering. Turn off your notifications and stay away from the news for a little while.

  7. Re-watch Your Favorite Movies or Re-read Your Favorite Books
    Indulge in your favorites. Embracing simple things that make you happy can make recovery a little easier.

  8. Try Aromatherapy
    Light some candles, incense, or invest in an essential oil diffuser. Simply lighting a candle or diffusing essential oils can reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. It can even help you sleep better. It also helps with pain, like headaches and stomach aches, which you might find yourself experiencing during your recovery, as well.

  9. Try Meditation or Yoga
    Yoga and meditation can really help you become more aware and in tune with your emotions, and help you realize that how you’re feeling - depressed, on edge, paranoid, nervous - is okay and 100% understandable. It can also reduce stress, increase happiness, and increase self-awareness.

  10. Be Patient With Yourself
    Recovery is different for everybody. If you find it hard to pick yourself up, know that it may take some time. If you find yourself recovering fairly quickly, that’s okay too. Some of you may find yourself overwhelmed with emotions; others may shrug it off within 24 hours. However you react, be patient with your recovery speed and your emotional levels and give yourself some slack. Know that you’re strong and can get through this.  

Recovering from sexual assault can - and will - be hard. We all recover at different speeds and in different ways, but what matters most in the end is yourself. Find what helps you best in your recovery, and remember that you’re never alone.  

If you have been sexually assaulted, find help immediately by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).