The Self-Care after Rape series is a set of tips and tricks from a small group of survivors.

 

Anonymous asked
(1) when i was 5 or 6 my cousin was 15 or 16 and i remember a few times when he was touching me with his fingers or orally and i felt pleasure. he said this is going to be our secret and i was so proud and felt so important that he wanted to have a secret with me. he wanted me to touch him and i rembember i didn't want to and he didn't force me. once he even asked me if i knew any place where no one could see us and i was so glad that he asked for my opinion, i showed him the place and he was

(2) touching me again and it felt good. i started to remember all of it when i was like 17 and i’m 23 now and i feel so gross and dirty and i’m trying to understand what happened but i honestly don’t know. i’m in therapy, but i can’t even imagine talking about that as i was encouring everything that happened, i showed him the place where we could hide and i didn’t protest against what he was doing cause i felt pleasure while he was touching me. i feel so terrible right now, i don’t know why

(3) i behaved like that and idk if it’s really something worth talking about in therapy as i was agreeing to it. i feel like there is something deeply wrong with me, but it can’t be helped since i was behaving in such a gross and shameless and revolting way as a child. i don’t even know why i’m writing this, maybe i’m hoping that you could tell me that all of it was his fault, but i know it wasn’t, i wasn’t protesting, it felt good and i even showed him the place where he could touch me and i’m

(4) lying to myself when i want to feel that he’s the only one to blame, but i just feel like i need an absoulution or something to be able to live. i’m so sorry for this message, i know it doesn’t make any sense. and i’m still sending it anyway, hoping for my absolution and knowing that there’s no way for me to get it. i’m sorry, i’m really really sorry for sending this.

———————————————————————

There is no need at all to feel sorry for sending us a message, that is what we are here for. When you have questions or need to talk we are here for you, okay?

What happened to you was CSA, child sexual abuse, and more precisely CoCSA, child on child sexual abuse, you can use those terms if you want to, but you do not have to if you don’t.

I linked you to two posts, but I want to pick out one very important sentence from the first link.

"It is never a child’s fault."

What happened is not your fault, and can never be your fault. It does not matter that you did not try to stop him. It does not matter that the touch in itself felt good at the time, or that you told him about a place where you would not be seen. It does not in any way make you responsible, and it does not in any way lessen the abuse you went through.

You were a child. He was a much older child, nearly an adult, and mature enough to understand what he was doing was wrong, or he would not have made it a secret or tried to hide it. It is up to you, and only you, to decide how much he is responsible, and how much the people who were to supervise him, like parents, persons of care, teachers etc. hold responsibility. In no way do you hold any.

There is nothing wrong with you, and there was not anything wrong with you when you were a child, you were not intrinsically bad or gross or anything like that. You are not now. You hold value as a person, and you deserve to be treated with respect, care, and kindness.

It is up to you to decide if you want to talk to your therapist about what happened at some point or not. It might be helpful and could be very much worth it, or maybe you would prefer a therapist who is specialised on work with survivors. You need to do what you think is best for you.

I would also like to link you to posts that might help you deal with the emotions: Emotional Self Care and Making Peace With the Emotion Monster

I hope this could help you put your mind at ease, and find the absolution that you were looking for. I promise, it is not your responsibility.

Take good care of yourself, will you?

- Kitty

Anonymous asked
I was sexually abused by two my older brothers when i was 9 or 10 and they were 12 and 15. I'm 17 now and I don't hate them. I mean sometimes I do but for the most part I actually still love them and I hate myself for it. How can I still love the people who hurt me so badly? I don't forgive them and I never will but I still feel like I should hate them. And sometimes I just feel so alone because when people talk about rape they never talk about people like me and I don't really know what to feel

It is different to get assaulted by some stranger whom we have never seen before and probably will never see again and being assaulted by somebody we know.

Especially when we are abused by people close to us, like family, romantic partners, or friends over a longer period of time, it is difficult to deal with all the emotions that causes in us. There are not only bad memories and bad times, sometimes there are good times and happy memories.

Even abusers are not always behaving abusive, though they are still abusers. Sometimes they do something nice or can be kind, and that makes it hard to get emotionally detached.

There is no one way you are supposed to feel, or a wrong way to feel. It is okay what you feel, emotions are not right or wrong, they just are.

You are not alone, there are other survivors who feel like you, or who love their abusers. I myself still feel romantic attachment to a former boyfriend who assaulted me and tried to rape me. I know he is an abuser, and I know on a matter of fact basis that he is not good for me, and that it is not good for me to talk to him. But I still miss him, still miss the good times, the happy times we once had. There are parts of him I do love still. Which is hard to admit, even before myself. Especially because I was so in love that the relationship was already 2 years over before I realised how abusive it had actually been, and I was 36 at the time.

You do not have to hate them. You can still feel love towards them. It does not make you a bad person, and it does not in any way invalidate your experiences. It does not cancel out what happened to you. It also does not mean that your trauma is less because you feel love towards them.

We have a post here Why You Aren’t Bad for Loving Your Abuser. It explains why we often feel towards abusers the way we do.

While emotions in themselves are not wrong, sometimes they are hard to bear or hard to cope with. We also have posts on how to manage emotions better: Making Peace With the Emotion Monster and Emotional Self Care might help you there.

Please take good care of yourself, okay?

- Kitty

Anonymous asked
How do you date after being raped? I'm seeing this guy. But I'm afraid to let him in mainly because he's good with my son and my rapist (before he raped me) told me a guy who's willing to get close to your child has an ulterior motive. My rapist was willing to help me raise my child then raped me. So I'm afraid. Help?

Dating can definitely be rough after an assault, and I can totally see where your fears are coming from. Specifically about this new guy—I can think of a couple potential reasons for what your rapist said, some of which may be tied together: 1) Foreshadowing, hinting that his motives were less than “I want to help you with your kid”, and seeing if you would ignore it enough that he could continue to manipulate you. 2) He was telling the truth and wanted to let you know. This seems the least unlikely of the reasons I could think of. The downside to this option is obviously that you may not being able to trust the new guy based on that alone, though I’m not a fan on generalization. 3) Control. It ties a certain amount into option 1, but there’s another piece to it as well. If you continue to distrust people who want to help you with your kid (who, in my opinion, are the kind of people you would potentially want to date because it means they’ll be willing to take part in all aspects of your like), then the people that don’t want to help are left. Those people probably will not be the best for your life (just a guess), and so that leaves only one person as a potential date—your rapist. It could have just been one more method to mess with your head and control you.

If it is option 3, it is absolutely not your fault for believing him. It’s natural that we want to keep ourselves and children safe, and if he was using that against you, then it’s not your fault for going along with it. Just wanted to put that out there.

That all being said, I dislike generalizations like that. It’s not a fair assessment. It could very well be that the new guy is good with your son and wants to get close to him because he actually cares. Granted, the other option, the one your rapist suggested is entirely possible as well. As with any relationship, I’d suggest that you keep an eye out. Trust your instincts if you see red flags for potentially abusive or problematic behavior and figure out a way to talk about it, with this new guy if you’re comfortable doing so and probably a friend as well. Having an more objective party (someone not in the relationship) could be helpful, though friends can also just complicate/worsen things further. Depends on the friend and their personal filters for the world.

For dating in general, I’d suggest the same thing—keep an eye out. It’s similar to dating before assault, there’s just more to worry about in terms of intimate contact and other social things. But that’s what watching for red flags and trusting your instincts are for. Mine have helped me on multiple occasions. There is a line between “this is past trauma flaring up” and “I’m actually getting a red flag off this person, it’s not entirely past experience”, and the difference is something you’ll have to learn to find for yourself. It’s not exactly something that can be explained very well (or at least I don’t know how to).

I hope this new guy works out and everything is fine with him. Take care of yourself today, okay?

-Rose

Survivors Speak Out Presents:

 submitted to :

Dear all non-survivors,

I am an Asian-American woman who has been in an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship for 1 1/2 years. I was almost 18 when I was sexually coerced and then raped when I snapped out of the coercion during my 1st and 2nd times ever having sex (in the same night, ouch). I thought I loved him. My parents taught me love is sacrifice. They taught me by example that dealing with the raging outbursts and intimidation of my beloveds was acceptance of the beloveds for all they were. I must sacrifice this one thing—my sexuality—for his happiness, no? 

Women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex, right? I shouldn’t be the “evil seductress” he saw me as, right?

I was so wrong. So very wrong.

From controlling what I wore through gas-lighting and guilt-tripping, I found myself detached from my physical body every time he got on top of me and proceeded to take the clothes he tried so hard to control…off me.

No matter how anguished of a face I made, or how I never said “yes” or “no” (except the first 2 times which proved futile), he never understood I didn’t give consent to him. Instead, he adamantly tried to persuade me not to go to one of my top college choices because he wouldn’t stop me from hanging out with my good guy friend who would eventually “rape” me because I was “too nice to say ‘no’.”  Because “all guys just want to get into my pants” because I am “pretty”.

Because I am “smart”. Because I am an Asian girl who follows the demure and submissive Asian-girl stereotype. Am I not?

No matter how many times I bled in my vagina due to lack of lubrication and aggressive fingering and thrusting, he wouldn’t stop. No matter how many times I silently pushed his hands from my underwear or vagina, he thought I wanted it. He thought I was as sex-crazy as him.

I am not a porcelain doll waiting for him to pin me down and have his way with me. I am a woman who deserves respect. I am not a FETISH. I am a human being. I am not a stereotype. I am an individual.

A history of domestic abuse pounded into me led me to think this hell-on-earth was what I deserved.

NO ONE deserves any kind of abuse.

Thank you for reading my story.

selfcareafterrape:

Survivors Speak Out is looking for submissions!
What is Survivors Speak Out? 
Survivors Speak Out is a month long event highlighting voices often not heard within the survivor community. The aim is to make a platform for people to get their voices heard and also to help other marginalized survivors to realize that they are not alone.
What is required to submit?
All submissions must come from marginalized survivors of sexual trauma. 
What does it mean to be a marginalized survivor?
While I couldn’t possibly list all the ways that one could be marginalized, I can name a few.
Survivors of Color, Disabled Survivors, Trans Survivors, Spectrum (Mogii, LGBTPQIA+, whatever your preferred word for the community is) Survivors, Male Survivors, Survivors whose assailants were women, Survivors whose assailants were other children.
and all the lovely intersections and varying identities that come along with it. This is not a checklist or a competition of ‘whose more marginalized’, as long as you fall in a marginalized community SSO will take your submission. 
Can I submit if I’m a non-marginalized Survivor? or if I’m a survivor of non-sexual trauma?
No. This event is specifically for Survivors of Sexual Trauma from marginalized communities.
While SCaR is an open place for all survivors- this particular event is not.
Why marginalized survivors of sexual trauma?
Because these voices are often ignored in favor of experiences that fit a more common narrative. In being ignored thousands of survivors are left feeling confused or like they are the only ones. While all survivors are valid, there are certain issues that some communities of survivors face more than others, as well as some completely unique struggles. Survivor Speaks Out hopes to help address some of the problems that these survivors face.
Who runs Survivors Speak Out?
While SCaR is now home to many mods of many different walks of life, SSO is run by SCaR’s founder Kris.
They are a 21 year old white non-cis disabled queer. 
What kind of Submissions is SSO taking?
This year SSO is taking submissions for these 6  categories:
1. Letter to yourself during the crisis period.
2. Letter to survivors in your marginalized community.
3. Letter to survivors who aren’t in your community. What do you wish we understood? How can we build a better support system for each other?
4. Letters to non-survivors. What do you think they need to know? Maybe you want to write it to a specific non-survivor in your life, maybe you want to write it in general, or to the ones at your school. 
5. Art. Poetry. Drawings. Pictures. Sculptures. Music. Videos. 
6. For the last option- I would like to interview some survivors who have done things in their communities. Maybe you volunteer at a shelter or for RAINN. Maybe you helped put on a domestic violence event at your college. Maybe you fundraised for the cause. Maybe you spoke at Take Back the Night.
When is SSO taking place?
The month of September this year!
When is SSO accepting submissions? How do I submit? Can I do so anonymously?
SSO will begin accepting submissions next week- starting on July Seventh. It will continue to accept submissions for the rest of the month of July and for most of August.
All submissions must be in by August 25th. September 8th.
You can submit either by Submitting to selfcareafterrape or by emailing selfcareafterrape@gmail.com. If you plan on submitting it straight to SCaR make sure you touch base with Kris first.
If you want it to be anonymous- that can be arranged.
Further Questions?
Can be sent to ssoquestions.tumblr.com. Any questions sent to SCaR itself will be deleted unanswered. This is to keep SCaR’s inbox from becoming flooded. The actual SSO will still take place on the main blog.

One week left to submit!

selfcareafterrape:

Survivors Speak Out is looking for submissions!

What is Survivors Speak Out? 

Survivors Speak Out is a month long event highlighting voices often not heard within the survivor community. The aim is to make a platform for people to get their voices heard and also to help other marginalized survivors to realize that they are not alone.

What is required to submit?

All submissions must come from marginalized survivors of sexual trauma. 

What does it mean to be a marginalized survivor?

While I couldn’t possibly list all the ways that one could be marginalized, I can name a few.

Survivors of Color, Disabled Survivors, Trans Survivors, Spectrum (Mogii, LGBTPQIA+, whatever your preferred word for the community is) Survivors, Male Survivors, Survivors whose assailants were women, Survivors whose assailants were other children.

and all the lovely intersections and varying identities that come along with it. This is not a checklist or a competition of ‘whose more marginalized’, as long as you fall in a marginalized community SSO will take your submission. 

Can I submit if I’m a non-marginalized Survivor? or if I’m a survivor of non-sexual trauma?

No. This event is specifically for Survivors of Sexual Trauma from marginalized communities.

While SCaR is an open place for all survivors- this particular event is not.

Why marginalized survivors of sexual trauma?

Because these voices are often ignored in favor of experiences that fit a more common narrative. In being ignored thousands of survivors are left feeling confused or like they are the only ones. While all survivors are valid, there are certain issues that some communities of survivors face more than others, as well as some completely unique struggles. Survivor Speaks Out hopes to help address some of the problems that these survivors face.

Who runs Survivors Speak Out?

While SCaR is now home to many mods of many different walks of life, SSO is run by SCaR’s founder Kris.

They are a 21 year old white non-cis disabled queer. 

What kind of Submissions is SSO taking?

This year SSO is taking submissions for these 6  categories:

1. Letter to yourself during the crisis period.

2. Letter to survivors in your marginalized community.

3. Letter to survivors who aren’t in your community. What do you wish we understood? How can we build a better support system for each other?

4. Letters to non-survivors. What do you think they need to know? Maybe you want to write it to a specific non-survivor in your life, maybe you want to write it in general, or to the ones at your school. 

5. Art. Poetry. Drawings. Pictures. Sculptures. Music. Videos. 

6. For the last option- I would like to interview some survivors who have done things in their communities. Maybe you volunteer at a shelter or for RAINN. Maybe you helped put on a domestic violence event at your college. Maybe you fundraised for the cause. Maybe you spoke at Take Back the Night.

When is SSO taking place?

The month of September this year!

When is SSO accepting submissions? How do I submit? Can I do so anonymously?

SSO will begin accepting submissions next week- starting on July Seventh. It will continue to accept submissions for the rest of the month of July and for most of August.

All submissions must be in by August 25th. September 8th.

You can submit either by Submitting to selfcareafterrape or by emailing selfcareafterrape@gmail.com. If you plan on submitting it straight to SCaR make sure you touch base with Kris first.

If you want it to be anonymous- that can be arranged.

Further Questions?

Can be sent to ssoquestions.tumblr.com. Any questions sent to SCaR itself will be deleted unanswered. This is to keep SCaR’s inbox from becoming flooded. The actual SSO will still take place on the main blog.

One week left to submit!

Anonymous asked
What do you call it when you hear things that aren't really there? Like in both extremes of noise (silence and super loud) sometimes I hear things like screaming, crying, scary laughing or people calling out my name. I've had flashbacks and dissociated before but does this fall under one of those? It doesn't happen too often but I'm still a bit concerned

selfcareafterrape:

selfcareafterrape:

Hallucinations /psychosis.

If! it’s… if the sounds are playing like a memory. (so for instance, you hear the scream/crying from a traumatic memory.. but only that piece.) it can be an auditory flashback.

It can just be.. especially with hypervigilance… people try to make sense of white noise. The same way that people… ever look up at a ceiling that has all those dots and you see face/little drawings? or on things with busy patterns?

The brain is trying to make sense of everything going on. (this is much more applicable to when everything is loud vs. the silence thing. though it can happen with the silence thing too because with hyper vigilance your senses are sort of… super sensitive. so you might be hearing little things you wouldn’t normally. and then it’s like ‘what does that noise mean?’ and the brain might be racing and fill in things.)

but it can also definitely be hallucinations and psychosis.

There was… a period of time in college that I call what I went through psychosis. a lot of it was probably the drugs and auditory flashbacks but I remember the worst was… I would hear this really…. it was children’s laughter. but it felt creepy. and it took months of hearing this randomly, and I was standing up on a bridgeishthing looking down at the floor below when the memory behind the children’s laughter all of a sudden came to me and everything made sense.

I worked in a children’s museum my senior year/freshman year of college and we’re just going to say that my niece’s mother dated some sketchy people and this person had hurt me. and I was at work one day- standing on a bridgy thing looking down at the floor below me- when I saw him. I had been operating under the impression that he was in jail- and suddenly having him in my ‘safe place’ in a way was far worse than his original crime.

Without the memory- I couldn’t call it a flashback because who the hell has /children’s laughter/ as a background noise for a trauma memory. 

Obligatory if you’re hearing voices and they are telling you things- especially to harm yourself or others, you probably do need to seek professional help. but that doesn’t sound like what you’re describing.

Edit from O

I did a quick bit of research, and it sounds like Auditory Hallucinations (if you want to classify it and really narrow it down), and I found a site here and here that describes it in a bit more detail. (they’re UK sites, so any numbers or groups may not be of much help, but the advise is still sound.)

If you’re in the midst of one of these hallucinations, then the grounding methods that are used for flashbacks should also work. Discerning what is real and what isn’t is hard, but it’s not completely impossible, and it does get easier with time. Having something that you know is real, that you can focus on and tell yourself “this is real, I know this is real” is really helpful. This can be something you can see, or something you can touch and feel the texture and solidness of it. Having a grounding object on you at all times can be really helpful for this, something like a necklace, or a small rock that you can carry around with you, because it’s something familiar that you know is real, and that you can recognise easily.

I had a friend who used to get these a lot, and I know that it did get easier to work out what was real and what wasn’t, to the point where when they started she could instantly tell herself “This isn’t real. This isn’t the person talking to me.” It took her a while to get there, but she did get there.

I hope this helped

-O

Hi there. I just thought I would add that the most important distinction between voices heard through hallucinations and voices heard through dissociation is the location of the voice (internal v. external).

Hearing voices for someone with severe dissociation is common and is actually not a hallucination. Of course, we aren’t able to provide a diagnosis, but as we do here, my personal experiences of voice-hearing is not hallucinatory, but is actually related to having DID/alters.

I don’t know the context of your abuse or any of the details of your symptomology, but it’s worth looking into to find out what’s going on.

Frankly, the nuances between psychosis and dissociation are difficult to ascertain. There are tools that can be used by professionals to assist in this, but I would really encourage you to seek a specific kind of professional if you choose to go that route. Like, I would recommend seeing someone who has a lot of experience dealing with dissociation. People are frequently misdiagnosed with psychotic disorders when they have dissociative disorders.

The trouble is that if it’s psychosis, any treatment would need to be specific to that. And if it’s dissociation, the treatment for psychosis will make the symptoms of dissociation worse, so it’s actually super important to figure out which one it actually is. Know what I mean? It doesn’t have to be a flashback to be dissociation, but it also doesn’t mean it’s not psychosis.

Anonymous asked
What do you call it when you hear things that aren't really there? Like in both extremes of noise (silence and super loud) sometimes I hear things like screaming, crying, scary laughing or people calling out my name. I've had flashbacks and dissociated before but does this fall under one of those? It doesn't happen too often but I'm still a bit concerned

selfcareafterrape:

Hallucinations /psychosis.

If! it’s… if the sounds are playing like a memory. (so for instance, you hear the scream/crying from a traumatic memory.. but only that piece.) it can be an auditory flashback.

It can just be.. especially with hypervigilance… people try to make sense of white noise. The same way that people… ever look up at a ceiling that has all those dots and you see face/little drawings? or on things with busy patterns?

The brain is trying to make sense of everything going on. (this is much more applicable to when everything is loud vs. the silence thing. though it can happen with the silence thing too because with hyper vigilance your senses are sort of… super sensitive. so you might be hearing little things you wouldn’t normally. and then it’s like ‘what does that noise mean?’ and the brain might be racing and fill in things.)

but it can also definitely be hallucinations and psychosis.

There was… a period of time in college that I call what I went through psychosis. a lot of it was probably the drugs and auditory flashbacks but I remember the worst was… I would hear this really…. it was children’s laughter. but it felt creepy. and it took months of hearing this randomly, and I was standing up on a bridgeishthing looking down at the floor below when the memory behind the children’s laughter all of a sudden came to me and everything made sense.

I worked in a children’s museum my senior year/freshman year of college and we’re just going to say that my niece’s mother dated some sketchy people and this person had hurt me. and I was at work one day- standing on a bridgy thing looking down at the floor below me- when I saw him. I had been operating under the impression that he was in jail- and suddenly having him in my ‘safe place’ in a way was far worse than his original crime.

Without the memory- I couldn’t call it a flashback because who the hell has /children’s laughter/ as a background noise for a trauma memory. 

Obligatory if you’re hearing voices and they are telling you things- especially to harm yourself or others, you probably do need to seek professional help. but that doesn’t sound like what you’re describing.

Edit from O

I did a quick bit of research, and it sounds like Auditory Hallucinations (if you want to classify it and really narrow it down), and I found a site here and here that describes it in a bit more detail. (they’re UK sites, so any numbers or groups may not be of much help, but the advise is still sound.)

If you’re in the midst of one of these hallucinations, then the grounding methods that are used for flashbacks should also work. Discerning what is real and what isn’t is hard, but it’s not completely impossible, and it does get easier with time. Having something that you know is real, that you can focus on and tell yourself “this is real, I know this is real” is really helpful. This can be something you can see, or something you can touch and feel the texture and solidness of it. Having a grounding object on you at all times can be really helpful for this, something like a necklace, or a small rock that you can carry around with you, because it’s something familiar that you know is real, and that you can recognise easily.

I had a friend who used to get these a lot, and I know that it did get easier to work out what was real and what wasn’t, to the point where when they started she could instantly tell herself “This isn’t real. This isn’t the person talking to me.” It took her a while to get there, but she did get there.

I hope this helped

-O

Anonymous asked
What do you call it when you hear things that aren't really there? Like in both extremes of noise (silence and super loud) sometimes I hear things like screaming, crying, scary laughing or people calling out my name. I've had flashbacks and dissociated before but does this fall under one of those? It doesn't happen too often but I'm still a bit concerned

Hallucinations /psychosis.

If! it’s… if the sounds are playing like a memory. (so for instance, you hear the scream/crying from a traumatic memory.. but only that piece.) it can be an auditory flashback.

It can just be.. especially with hypervigilance… people try to make sense of white noise. The same way that people… ever look up at a ceiling that has all those dots and you see face/little drawings? or on things with busy patterns?

The brain is trying to make sense of everything going on. (this is much more applicable to when everything is loud vs. the silence thing. though it can happen with the silence thing too because with hyper vigilance your senses are sort of… super sensitive. so you might be hearing little things you wouldn’t normally. and then it’s like ‘what does that noise mean?’ and the brain might be racing and fill in things.)

but it can also definitely be hallucinations and psychosis.

There was… a period of time in college that I call what I went through psychosis. a lot of it was probably the drugs and auditory flashbacks but I remember the worst was… I would hear this really…. it was children’s laughter. but it felt creepy. and it took months of hearing this randomly, and I was standing up on a bridgeishthing looking down at the floor below when the memory behind the children’s laughter all of a sudden came to me and everything made sense.

I worked in a children’s museum my senior year/freshman year of college and we’re just going to say that my niece’s mother dated some sketchy people and this person had hurt me. and I was at work one day- standing on a bridgy thing looking down at the floor below me- when I saw him. I had been operating under the impression that he was in jail- and suddenly having him in my ‘safe place’ in a way was far worse than his original crime.

Without the memory- I couldn’t call it a flashback because who the hell has /children’s laughter/ as a background noise for a trauma memory. 

Obligatory if you’re hearing voices and they are telling you things- especially to harm yourself or others, you probably do need to seek professional help. but that doesn’t sound like what you’re describing.

selfcareafterrape:

I get a lot of questions about the two sides of the feelings coin.
Either ‘I don’t feel anything, how do I go about doing this again.’ or ‘I FEEL EVERYTHING SO MUCH HOW DO I MAKE IT STOP’.
Both of them are a question about learning how to feel again- usually in appropriate amounts. And the advice is pretty much the same for either side of the coin.
1. Check in with yourself regularly.
Right now, how do you feel? Are you tired? Are you hungry? Are you in pain? All of these things could contribute to how we feel emotionally.  Some people, especially survivors of childhood abuse, have learned to turn off their emotions when they are in physical pain. They learned to ‘turn off’ physical needs because it wasn’t safe to need them and because they learned early on that they would be denied if they did speak out.
Checking in and recognizing both our physical needs and how we feel allows us to address these things early on before they either get locked down and tucked away- or bubble out in a way you’d prefer they not.
If you aren’t used to checking in with yourself, make it a habit and decide on what should trigger it. Do you want to check in with yourself every time your phone buzzes? Every time you fiddle with that necklace you wear? You enter a new room? It may feel odd to consciously check into your emotions all the time- but it will enable you to start doing it subconsciously.
2. Increase your emotional vocab.
A common problem is that people don’t know what to call what they feel and that makes it easier to feel out of control.
Experiment. Find what works for you.
Some people use code words to deal with their feelings. I talked before about a friendship in which ‘Turtles’ was a word that kind of represented bad feelings. This was nice in terms of talking about emotions- because as a survivor of childhood not goodness… I still struggle with connecting to my emotions sometimes. Being able to say ‘The turtles are acting up’ instead of ‘I am feeling triggered/agitated/angry’ allowed me to acknowledge the feelings but also give me a safe distance.
Others make up new words. Which is kind of like codewords- but the word doesn’t exist in the first place. Consider people saying that they feel ‘Hangry’, a mixture of hungry and angry. Or I used to say I was ‘Fucktional’ which meant I wasn’t doing well but I could handle what was going on. Smash together words, take things out- do whatever works for you.
Or there are things like this chart, which gives a lot of different emotion words- as well as where they typically fall in intensity.
Having words to describe what we feel helps us better cope with them.
3. Visualize.
This is one that really works for visual learners. As a teen whenever I had a break down, I imagined a shattered bottle. I mentally put back together the bottle in my head, put everything back inside of it- and stoppered it up. I don’t advise stoppering up your emotions anymore, but as someone who was ricocheting between two abusive situations- it was one of the ways I survived.
Now when I’m in a place where I feel like breaking down, but it isn’t safe yet- I mentally envision putting my emotions into a box with a lock and putting them under a bed. I promise myself that I’ll come back to them later when it’s safe to do so.
I know someone who envisions her anxiety like a hurricane. Whenever she gets really anxious she allows herself to recognize the hurricane, and then envisions it slowly calming down and pass over. This enables her to calm down panic attacks before they happen.
I know someone else who imagines her anger as a fuzzy monster. She has a policy that she is allowed to be angry and that anger can be productive- but that she needs to be aware that a lot of people are afraid of anger, and sometimes rightfully so. She uses her imagery to remind herself of that- and to remind her to keep it on a leash and never take it out on innocent bystanders.
An older woman I once talked to told me that happiness and contentness grow in gardens. That happiness is bright flowers and contentness is sprawling vines. Both are beautiful, but contentness a little easier to grow and tends to stick around longer. They require work to keep around, but sometimes, even with no effort at all, they will pop up unexpectedly. Sometimes people get annoyed when all they have is greens and their flowers don’t grow, but it’s important to recognize that the greens are good too and that seasons come and go and that the flowers will come back with a bit of hard work and a bit of good luck.
4. Create plans of action.
What will you do when you’re sad?
What will you do when you’re angry?
What is a good way to celebrate being happy?
What will you do when you’re scared?
Taking time to problem solve and know what will happen, can make it easier to manage emotions in the future. Instead of blocking them out, honor that they are there and respond in turn. If you’re scared, there probably is a reason- even if it is only ‘it reminds me of the part’. Remind yourself that you aren’t in the past, and take a second to consciously go over why you’re safe now. When you’re angry, find constructive ways to deal with that. Make art. Talk it out.  Find something to do to get rid of the excess energy.
5. Give yourself time to feel things.
When I was first learning to cry, the only time I cried was at poetry readings. I could feel sadness and I could cry over other people’s pain, but not so much my own. Doing things like attending open mics, or watching movies that make you cry, is often a first step for those who have spent time ignoring their emotions.
For those struggling to get angry at those that hurt them, find it gets a little bit easier when they connect with others and get angry at someone else’s situation first.
Make a specified time where you can feel things. It may be daily or weekly or monthly. It could just be fifteen minutes a day or going to an event each month or a few hours on the weekend. Find something that works for you.
Allow yourself time to get angry. To get sad. To cry. To hurt. To feel.
and yes, often times in the beginning, it’s a lot of negative emotions. But we’ve been bottling this negative emotions up for years. They need to be released. Once they’ve been dealt with, or at the least, the brain recognizes that you’ll take time to deal with them regularly, it becomes a lot safer and easier for the more positive emotions to come up.
Respect your emotions because they are a part of you. And you, you are wonderful. You don’t need to be fixed, you just need some more tools so that you can show off a better version of yourself and so that you can spend more time feeling good about who you are.
6. Take time to self-soothe after letting off excess bad emotions.
Some people feel better right after they cry or make art or talk about what happened.
For a lot of us though, it releases the pressure but we still feel shaky. And sometimes we use this as a reason not to deal with emotions in the future. It’s important to set time aside to feel, but it’s also important to take care of ourselves afterward. Especially in the beginning.

selfcareafterrape:

I get a lot of questions about the two sides of the feelings coin.

Either ‘I don’t feel anything, how do I go about doing this again.’ or ‘I FEEL EVERYTHING SO MUCH HOW DO I MAKE IT STOP’.

Both of them are a question about learning how to feel again- usually in appropriate amounts. And the advice is pretty much the same for either side of the coin.

1. Check in with yourself regularly.

Right now, how do you feel? Are you tired? Are you hungry? Are you in pain? All of these things could contribute to how we feel emotionally.  Some people, especially survivors of childhood abuse, have learned to turn off their emotions when they are in physical pain. They learned to ‘turn off’ physical needs because it wasn’t safe to need them and because they learned early on that they would be denied if they did speak out.

Checking in and recognizing both our physical needs and how we feel allows us to address these things early on before they either get locked down and tucked away- or bubble out in a way you’d prefer they not.

If you aren’t used to checking in with yourself, make it a habit and decide on what should trigger it. Do you want to check in with yourself every time your phone buzzes? Every time you fiddle with that necklace you wear? You enter a new room? It may feel odd to consciously check into your emotions all the time- but it will enable you to start doing it subconsciously.

2. Increase your emotional vocab.

A common problem is that people don’t know what to call what they feel and that makes it easier to feel out of control.

Experiment. Find what works for you.

Some people use code words to deal with their feelings. I talked before about a friendship in which ‘Turtles’ was a word that kind of represented bad feelings. This was nice in terms of talking about emotions- because as a survivor of childhood not goodness… I still struggle with connecting to my emotions sometimes. Being able to say ‘The turtles are acting up’ instead of ‘I am feeling triggered/agitated/angry’ allowed me to acknowledge the feelings but also give me a safe distance.

Others make up new words. Which is kind of like codewords- but the word doesn’t exist in the first place. Consider people saying that they feel ‘Hangry’, a mixture of hungry and angry. Or I used to say I was ‘Fucktional’ which meant I wasn’t doing well but I could handle what was going on. Smash together words, take things out- do whatever works for you.

Or there are things like this chart, which gives a lot of different emotion words- as well as where they typically fall in intensity.

Having words to describe what we feel helps us better cope with them.

3. Visualize.

This is one that really works for visual learners. As a teen whenever I had a break down, I imagined a shattered bottle. I mentally put back together the bottle in my head, put everything back inside of it- and stoppered it up. I don’t advise stoppering up your emotions anymore, but as someone who was ricocheting between two abusive situations- it was one of the ways I survived.

Now when I’m in a place where I feel like breaking down, but it isn’t safe yet- I mentally envision putting my emotions into a box with a lock and putting them under a bed. I promise myself that I’ll come back to them later when it’s safe to do so.

I know someone who envisions her anxiety like a hurricane. Whenever she gets really anxious she allows herself to recognize the hurricane, and then envisions it slowly calming down and pass over. This enables her to calm down panic attacks before they happen.

I know someone else who imagines her anger as a fuzzy monster. She has a policy that she is allowed to be angry and that anger can be productive- but that she needs to be aware that a lot of people are afraid of anger, and sometimes rightfully so. She uses her imagery to remind herself of that- and to remind her to keep it on a leash and never take it out on innocent bystanders.

An older woman I once talked to told me that happiness and contentness grow in gardens. That happiness is bright flowers and contentness is sprawling vines. Both are beautiful, but contentness a little easier to grow and tends to stick around longer. They require work to keep around, but sometimes, even with no effort at all, they will pop up unexpectedly. Sometimes people get annoyed when all they have is greens and their flowers don’t grow, but it’s important to recognize that the greens are good too and that seasons come and go and that the flowers will come back with a bit of hard work and a bit of good luck.

4. Create plans of action.

What will you do when you’re sad?

What will you do when you’re angry?

What is a good way to celebrate being happy?

What will you do when you’re scared?

Taking time to problem solve and know what will happen, can make it easier to manage emotions in the future. Instead of blocking them out, honor that they are there and respond in turn. If you’re scared, there probably is a reason- even if it is only ‘it reminds me of the part’. Remind yourself that you aren’t in the past, and take a second to consciously go over why you’re safe now. When you’re angry, find constructive ways to deal with that. Make art. Talk it out.  Find something to do to get rid of the excess energy.

5. Give yourself time to feel things.

When I was first learning to cry, the only time I cried was at poetry readings. I could feel sadness and I could cry over other people’s pain, but not so much my own. Doing things like attending open mics, or watching movies that make you cry, is often a first step for those who have spent time ignoring their emotions.

For those struggling to get angry at those that hurt them, find it gets a little bit easier when they connect with others and get angry at someone else’s situation first.

Make a specified time where you can feel things. It may be daily or weekly or monthly. It could just be fifteen minutes a day or going to an event each month or a few hours on the weekend. Find something that works for you.

Allow yourself time to get angry. To get sad. To cry. To hurt. To feel.

and yes, often times in the beginning, it’s a lot of negative emotions. But we’ve been bottling this negative emotions up for years. They need to be released. Once they’ve been dealt with, or at the least, the brain recognizes that you’ll take time to deal with them regularly, it becomes a lot safer and easier for the more positive emotions to come up.

Respect your emotions because they are a part of you. And you, you are wonderful. You don’t need to be fixed, you just need some more tools so that you can show off a better version of yourself and so that you can spend more time feeling good about who you are.

6. Take time to self-soothe after letting off excess bad emotions.

Some people feel better right after they cry or make art or talk about what happened.

For a lot of us though, it releases the pressure but we still feel shaky. And sometimes we use this as a reason not to deal with emotions in the future. It’s important to set time aside to feel, but it’s also important to take care of ourselves afterward. Especially in the beginning.