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PROSAF — Surviving Sexual Abuse In The Caribbean By Souyenne Hackshaw

I wanted to start this week off by doing a little check in. How are you doing? How are you feeling having so much change so soon? I’ll start by sharing that the past couple of weeks have been hard for me. So much changed so quickly that being unable to be really prepared left me feeling out of control and triggered. So, considering how many of us are currently feeling similar emotions, I thought we could focus this week’s article on how we are doing and ways in which we can cope.

I know during much of 2019 we spoke about coping where trauma is concerned.  What we are living through right now is traumatic. None of us expected to be on 24-hour lock down when the entire world is being plagued by a deadly virus. Many of us are unsure of what will happen with our jobs, many of us are afraid that our health could be severely impacted, many of us are afraid of how the world will be forever changed moving forward. All very realistic fears, concerns, worries, questions. We are all existing in a space that is rapidly changing from one minute to the next, it is completely normal that one would feel on edge. Before we continue on, I’d like to remind you that should you start feeling triggered or anxious while reading this article, please listen to your body and what it is telling you. Stop, take a breath, decide whether you can continue reading it or whether you need a break. The article will always be here.

Dealing with a global emergency after experiencing a traumatic situation can feel like a double whammy, but there are coping mechanism which can help.

What things have you been doing to help pass the time? I have been trying to read but truly not able to focus as I would normally be able to. I have been trying to listen to music as much as possible and have created different playlists for my moods. I am trying to do a bit of exercise everyday if only for ten minutes, which depending on your mood can be very challenging but try whenever you can for however long you can. Try writing – I have been  trying but depending on the nature of your topic it can be difficult. Keep in mind there is no way to rush any process right now.

We must learn to be patient with ourselves again, we have to learn to listen to our body and what it is telling us. What is currently happening not many of us expected to happen and those who did, didn’t expect it to happen now. Do what you can (while being safe & respectful of others) to keep yourself sane and healthy.

There is no right or wrong way to cope. “Most coping behaviors have both healthy and unhealthy aspects (Ellen Bass)”. Common Coping Mechanisms: 1. Denial – pretending that something that is actually happening isn’t. 2. Minimizing – pretending that what is happening isn’t really as bad as it is. 3. Rationalizing – finding ways to justify what is happening or has happened. 4. Presenting a facade to the world – hiding the truth of how you are feeling from those around you. Pretending that things are one way when in reality, they are not. 5. Humor – using humor/wit/sarcasm to help you get through tough times.

The last one I want to talk about today is 6… Trying to maintain control. For many we find solace in being in control of our bodies and our environments. What has happened in the world has in many ways for many people stripped them of their control in some form or fashion. I know that the most comforting thing to many, me included, is being in control. We find comfort in the known, we find peace and solace in feeling like we can predict the outcome. What we must work on now, is controlling what we can and trying not to let the rest become too overwhelming. I know, even as I am saying it that it is easier said than done. So maybe you can start by making a list of the things that you currently have

As we end this week’s article, I would like to remind you of a couple of things. There is no shame in listening to what your body needs. If it says stop, stop. I know that many of you are possibly struggling with so much changing so soon. So, try to focus on what is within your control and work from there. Try to find ways to help you calm down. Try to come up with little things that you can do to help you and your family make it through. To my fellow survivors, I want you to remember that you have survived a traumatic experience, but that experience doesn’t define you.

I want you to remember that you are strong, brave, intelligent, resilient and worthy of being loved. You are not alone. Know we are here to listen and help. We are all walking a similar path, not the same but we all understand on some level your pain. You are not alone; I know it often feels that way. Know you are not. We are here to listen. Call if you need to vent, if you need company to just be on the phone. We are here to help. Text, email, call… you are not alone. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of, you were violated. You don’t have to keep secrets you don’t want to keep to protect anyone. You don’t have to let anyone into your life who doesn’t understand or support you. Should you want to discuss or ask a specific question don’t hesitate to send it in. Please don’t give up. You deserve to be happy, and you deserve to decide who you let into your life and how much. Our contact info is below:

Yours Sincerely,

Souyenne Dathorne (724-9991), Velika Lawrence – Xylaw (723-6466), Miguelle James

Email: [email protected][email protected]

Facebook: Surviving Sexual Abuse in the Caribbean

Webpage: www.prosaf.org

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