For many, experiencing power-based violence is a life-changing event and can leave a person feeling vulnerable, confused, overwhelmed, and uncertain. Healing is never the same for everyone, but most survivors of trauma describe recovery as a nonlinear process with many ups, downs, and in-between phases. Some tips to care for yourself in the aftermath of a power-based violence experience are:

  1. Seek medical attention. It’s important to get screened for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and other physical injuries. A medical professional can also provide you with resources for counseling and support.   
  2. Reach out for support. As vulnerable as it may feel, reaching out to trusted family, friends, or other loved ones can help you process the complicated emotions that could assist with the healing process. 
  3. Consider counseling. Counseling or therapy, especially the kinds that specialize in trauma support, can be incredibly helpful in the recovery process. A counselor can provide a neutral, safe, and supportive space for you to talk about what you experienced and work through any emotional or psychological effects.  
  4. Practice self-care and patience. Remember, healing is a process and each day may look different. Practicing what you can control, like prioritizing your well-being can be both healthy and empowering. That could include activities like exercise, mindful meditation, journaling, connecting with nature. 
  5. Set boundaries. After a traumatic experience, it’s important to resist spreading yourself thin. This could look like practicing saying “no” to activities or situations that may trigger you, or set limits on how much talk about what happened with others. 

Trauma psychoeducation

Trauma is an emotional or physical response to one or more physically harmful or life-threatening events or circumstances with lasting adverse effects on your mental and physical well-being.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA)

The way trauma, a major topic of our time, is studied and understood has come a long way. There is a great deal of research about how human beings respond to traumatic experiences, both physiologically and behaviorally.  Many people tend to consider trauma to be distressing events like natural disasters, war, life or death experiences. On the other hand, it is becoming more common in our collective speech to use “trauma” to describe any number of responses to a difficult event, from temporary distress to life changing symptoms.  

While it is helpful to acknowledge that stress and trauma occur over a continuum, with mild stress at one end, and traumatic stress at the other, sexual violence is considered one of the most traumatic experiences a person can face. A survivor’s experience of trauma does not end when the sexual assault does; in fact, even though most individuals who experience trauma do not develop PTSD, research shows that trauma goes beyond a simple linear spectrum and instead touches all kinds of human functioning, including social engagement, memory, emotional regulation, executive functioning, and dissociation.  

What is trauma-informed care?

Trauma-informed care means helping someone with safety, trust, choice, empowerment, cultural humility, and collaboration in mind. Being trauma-informed means understanding that there is not a one-size-fits-all trauma response. Four Rs of trauma informed care:

  • Realize
  • Recognize
  • Respond
  • Resist re-traumatization


Trauma Informed Care (TTI) 

How to Support Someone Who Has Experienced Trauma

“Reflexes and Habits” Is Much Better Than “Fight or Flight”