Effects on You

When you help and support someone after a traumatic event such as interpersonal violence, you may experience some of the same emotions as the victim. Just as you allowed the victim to express their emotions, you should allow yourself to do the same.

We encourage you to:

  • Talk to a counselor or call a hotline
    • Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673)
    • OASIS 24-hr Crisis Line (828-262-5035)
  • Educate yourself about interpersonal violence and prevention.
  • Don’t be alone all the time. Be active and plan things with family and friends. This can help in moderating stress levels.
  • Don’t expect to be able to make the survivor feel better. 
  • Don’t blame yourself. The only person responsible for this is the perpetrator.

Positive Coping Methods

Positive coping methods are those that help to reduce anxiety, lessen other distressing reactions, and improve the situation in a way that does not harm you further and which improves things not only today, but tomorrow and in the future as well.  Positive coping methods can include:

  • Muscle relaxing exercises
  • Talking to another person for support
  • Exercise in moderation, including walking, jogging, or swimming
  • Taking a self-defense training or martial arts
  • Hot baths
  • Positive distracting activities, including recreational or work activities such as: cooking, gardening, taking a walk, playing tennis, going to the park, drinking tea, bowling, watching a movie, writing a letter, calling a friend, listening to music, cleaning, or doing arts and crafts.
  • Stretching or yoga
  • Breathing exercises—slow, deep breaths
  • Joining a support group
  • Calling a rape crisis center hotline
  • Meditation
  • Journaling


Negative Coping Methods

Negative coping methods can make problems worse.  They may reduce your anxiety immediately, but “short-circuit” more permanent change and cause additional problems.  Negative coping methods can include:

  • Continuing to avoid thinking about the assault
  • Social isolation (keeping to yourself)
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Binge eating (overeating)
  • Avoiding counseling
  • Cutting or hurting oneself
  • Aggressive or violent actions
  • Workaholism (working too much)


Ideas for coping with Memories of Sexual Assault

Here are some steps to help you actively stay in the present or “here and now”:

  • Keep your eyes open and actively look around you.  Look around the room or area where you are.  Turn the light on if it is off.
  • Say a safety statement: “My name is (name).  I am safe right now.  I am in the present, not the past.  I am at (location) and the date is (date).”
  • Touch objects around you (a pen, your purse, a book, your clothing, your chair) and notice how they feel.
  • Carry something in your pocket or purse (ring, a rock, any safe object) that you can touch whenever you have thoughts of the assault.
  • Saying a coping statement: “I can cope right now. This feeling will pass.”
  • Think of people you care about (look at photographs of your best friend).
  • Run cold water over your hands.
  • Jump up and down.
  • Stretch.
  • Eat something and notice how it tastes.