Candid Corner: Tackling sexual trauma

Q. For many people Holi is a time for celebration. It was for me too a few years ago. But now I fear it. I was groped and molested in my neighbourhood and that fear has stayed with me. Even when my boyfriend hugs me from behind, I freak out. I have been trying to get over this but just can’t get it out of my system. Please help.

Ans: Nobody deserves what happened to you. The impacts of sexual assault are extremely difficult to deal with and it will take some time to get them out of your system. You have them stored in your body as trauma. Be patient with yourself.

You will have to address them through therapy, possibly of different kinds, if you are seriously thinking about healing your nervous system. You will get many triggering cycles, especially when someone is touching you or during any event that reminds your body of the trauma you have suffered. You might also experience low self-esteem and shame during occasions that have nothing to do with the assault.

To reduce triggers, explain your boyfriend what happened and avoid the hugging from behind. Take care of your body and mind: Good sleep, food, exercise, mindfulness and play time should always be your priority.

Avoid media containing violence of any nature and stay away from crowded places as much as you can. It is important that your nervous system stays calm for as long as possible, in order for you to heal and avoid craving the feelings associated with a trauma response.

If you address this now you could be preventing more incapacitating reactions such as panic attacks. Together with regular therapy, try out EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) too. It is an upcoming technique used for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that works really well with one off trauma experiences such as yours.

(The writer is an Intimacy & Relationship Coach and an Independent People and Culture Specialist focusing on relationships, sexuality, youth and social media in South Asia. Have a query? Send it on fpjcandidcorner@gmail.com)

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