Media coverage of abuse stories – a trigger for survivors
Over the last few days, we have all been shocked by the story of Sarah Everard. The increasing mass media coverage on the critical issue of sexual abuse and violence on our televisions i.e. the BBC’s ‘Three Girls’ regarding the Rochdale abuse scandal and the coverage of sexual abuse on Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and EastEnders give viewers an insight into what a victim of sexual abuse may be experiencing and how they may be feeling.
At Safeline, we have witnessed an increasing number of calls from individuals coming forward to disclose their abuse because of these stories being aired on national television. This blanket coverage within the media of such stories can be a trigger point for survivors and their families, bringing back their own memories and experiences. It can be hard for victims to watch the portrayal of such sensitive issues and not feel impacted.
So, what is the best way for you to work through any difficult emotions you may be experiencing because of this? One option is to talk to someone and reach out for help. If you’re a survivor who feels alone and unable to talk to family or friends, then our telephone and online support service offer a helping hand when needed and offer advice and information about other support services in your area.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by recurring feelings or memories then take some time to ground yourself in the present. This can be done by practising mindfulness; sitting down and getting comfortable, placing your feet on the ground and feeling the ground beneath your feet. Breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Look around the room and let your eyes settle on an object. Identify that object, ask yourself where you got the item from, who bought it and anything else about it, when you’ve done move on to the next object, repeat the process again and again until you start to feel more at peace, always remembering to keep breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. This technique can help to bring you back into the ‘here and now’ – reminding you that you are safe now in the present moment. Other grounding techniques you could try, include mindfulness breathing exercises, walking barefoot around the room, or by smelling or tasting something with a strong smell or taste.
Becoming mindful and aware of feelings that media stories may trigger and knowing how to get support can be helpful for some survivors – they report that they feel less alone, knowing that they are not alone in their trauma. Statistically, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been targets of sexual abuse or rape.
Some survivors who see this coverage may have never previously disclosed their abuse; if you feel it is time to come forward and talk about your memories and feelings then we are here to help and support you. You do not need to suffer in silence – we offer free confidential support and advice.
Warwickshire Helpline – 0808 800 5008
National Male Survivor Helpline – 0808 800 5005
National Male Survivor Text Service – 07860 065 187
National Male Survivor Online Service – Click on Contact Us
Telephone & Online Counselling for adults in England & Wales – Email Us
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