In the wake of charges made against Cardinal George Pell for historical multiple childhood sexual abuse, it’s important for survivors to make sure they increase their level of self-care. While the news for many may be of relief and a sense of justice finally taking place, it can be a triggering time.
An emotional or traumatic trigger is when something occurs in the present that reminds you of a past traumatic experience. It can feel as real as it did when it happened where images, sensations, smell and taste flashback to that time. When this occurs, it is random and can often leave you feeling out of control and buried in your distress. However, there are ways to help you so you don’t stay locked within your memory.
What to do
- Limit your exposure to the news: No doubt, due to Pell’s position and reputation, and the upcoming court case, this story is going to be around for a while. Determine for yourself how much you can tolerate or expose yourself to before you start to feel overwhelmed, angry or distressed.
- Create a historical context: It can be helpful to remind yourself where you are and what you’re doing when you experience a flashback or trigger. Reminding yourself of the date, what room you’re sitting in, what you’re wearing, moving your feet around so you can feel the ground, anything that reminds you’re in the here and now that you’re safe brings you into the present. This helps to create distance between you and a memory.
- Accept your emotional state: it’s so tempting to push away painful emotions. Why on earth would you want to stay in pain, right? Research has shown the more you deny or ignore your emotions, the stronger they become. Simply stating and acknowledging your emotions means they will disappear faster.
- Increase your self-care: acknowledge that this could be a difficult time for you so it’s important to increase things that soothe you or make you happy. Develop a plan so you’re prepared for what to do when you’re triggered.
- Increase sessions with your therapist: If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed and finding it difficult to cope, make an appointment with your therapist. As awful and distressing as your feelings are right now, it can be an opportunity for a new piece of healing to occur.If you can’t get into to see your therapist, ring Lifeline or 1800 Respect who can help remind you of the strategies you already have in place so you can get through this difficult time.
- Talk to someone you trust: You may have a support person, friend or relative you trust who you can share your burden with. Let them know you’re having a difficult time and what they can do to help you. You may need some practical help around the home or simply have someone to keep you company.
It’s important that you know that you’re not alone with this. With the charges being laid against Pell, it’s societies way of saying that the sexual abuse of children is a criminal act that is not acceptable, no matter how many years its been since a crime has been committed.
You may be a survivor who has never talked about what you went through. If that’s you and you want to talk to someone who has experience in this area, please feel free to phone and make an appointment today. You don’t have to suffer on your own anymore.
Phone Rita on 0433 043 102 to make an appointment today. Phone and Skype sessions are available too.