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voices against violence

Taking Care of Yourself

The aftermath of interpersonal violence can be emotional and difficult. There is no right or wrong way to feel. It is important during this time to make space to care for yourself.

Healing and Recovery

Make a special effort to ensure that whatever you do to take care of yourself is done at your own pace and aligns with your own unique needs. The following list includes suggestions on ways to heal and recover from sexual assault.
  • Identify people you trust to validate your feelings and affirm your strengths. Friends, family, and counselors can make a big difference in the healing process.

  • Choose when, where, and with whom to talk about the violence, and set limits by only disclosing information that feels safe for you to reveal.

  • Consider speaking with a therapist, counselor, hotline volunteer, or Voices Against Violence (VAV) advocate. Talking about sexual assault can be difficult at first, but often helps survivors regain control in their lives. Many hotlines and online chat hotlines are available 24 hours a day.

  • Try to maintain a balanced diet and sleep cycle as much as possible; avoid overusing stimulants like caffeine, sugar, and nicotine. For more information about your health, check out the resources provided by University Health Services and visit the Office of Health Promotion on the 1st floor of the Student Services Building.

  • Use stress reduction techniques, such as exercise (jogging, aerobics, walking) or meditation. UT Rec Sports offers many services here on campus. Check out their offerings and schedules at www.utrecsports.org. The Mind Body Lab located in the Counseling and Mental Health Center on the 5th floor of the SSB.

  • Connect with the outdoors. Austin has a number of hike and bike trails, free or low-cost swimming pools, parks, and gardens. For a full list of options and activities, visit http://austintexas.gov/department/parks-and-recreation.

  • Take time to discover music, art and/or theatre off-campus. Check local listings on Austin newspaper and event websites. Many events around town are free.

  • Discover your playfulness and creativity. Find time for play or take part in a creative activity like drawing, painting, sculpture, poetry, or picking up an instrument. There are many options to take a low-cost art class in Austin. For example, check out the listings at the Doherty Arts Center or UT Informal Classes.

  • Allow yourself "time outs" for relaxation (yoga, massage, music, hot baths, prayer, meditation). Give yourself permission to take quiet moments to reflect, relax, and rejuvenate - especially during times you feel stressed or unsafe.
  • Check out the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC) online Stress Recess at cmhc.utexas.edu/stressrecess You can also visit the 5th floor of the SSB to visit the Mind Body Lab. Learn more at www.cmhc.utexas.edu/mindbodylab.html

    For a list of campus ministries, please see the University Interfaith Council http://www.uicut.org or search for a student org related to your religious practice on Hornslink.

  • Find short periods of uninterrupted leisure reading time. It might seem silly to suggest reading to university students, but making time for unrequired reading can be a relaxing, healing activity. Our UT libraries are an incredible place to find a book and/or a suggestion of what to pick up next.

  • Consider writing or keeping a journal as a way of expressing thoughts and feelings. There are many free, private online journals and websites with rich writing prompts such as www.penzu.com/

  • Connect with other survivors online. Some places to start are searching for hashtags on social media sites. You can also try searching for "survivor forum" or "survivor message board."

  • Connect with other survivors in person. Group Therapy can be a place to connect with others who may be able to relate to your experience. VAV offers group therapy for survivors on campus, for more information please visit: www.cmhc.utexas.edu/groups.html
    Safeplace
    also offers free group therapy to survivors in Austin, TX.
  • You may also be interested in upcoming speak-outs for survivors to share their stories at public events, such as Take Back the Night. Please see the VAV Calendar for upcoming events on campus and in the Austin community.


  • Connect with the UT Austin community through events, organizations and campus centers. To keep up to date with what's happening on campus, check out the lists available on the Campus Life websites, including Hornslink. and Know Events.

Grounding


Grounding is a coping strategy that is designed to reconnect you with the present. Orienting yourself to the here and now helps reestablish connection to your body and regain a sense of personal control. Some grounding techniques use the five senses, while others work by redirecting your thoughts. You may find that one type works better for you, or all types may be helpful.

Grounding through senses:

  • Run cool or warm water over your hands.
  • Pick a color and look for it in your surroundings.
  • Listen to a favorite song.
  • Tighten and release your muscles from your toes up to your face.
  • Carry a small object in your pocket to touch when you feel triggered.
  • Eat something slowly and focus on the texture and taste.
  • Focus on your breathing, noticing each inhale and exhale.
  • Carry a scented product, such as an essential oil, to smell.
  • Touch several objects around you and notice their texture.

Grounding through thoughts

    Imagine yourself somewhere soothing.
  • Visualize putting your overwhelming feelings in a box and closing the lid.
  • Read something out loud. Or read each letter backward and focus on the letters and not on the meaning of the words.
  • Think of favorites. Think of your favorite color, animal, season, food…
  • Imagine the faces of people you care about, or look at a photograph.
  • Remember the words to an inspiring song, quote, or poem.
  • Create a mantra such as: "I can handle this." "I know this will pass." "I am
  • stronger than this moment."

What if it doesn't seem to work? If these don't seem to work, try different techniques and don't give up. Grounding takes time and repetition. Practice techniques when you are feeling calm until they feel comfortable. Take your time. Notice what works best for you and make a note of it. Start grounding as soon as you identify that you are being triggered. For more ideas, try searching online for grounding techniques.

Learn More

Sexual Violence
Dating and Relationship Violence
Safety Planning
Stalking
Common Reactions
Reporting Options
Concerns Related to Identity
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The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World