Media coverage of abuse stories – a trigger for survivors.
In the last week there has been huge coverage in the papers of the report published by Dame Janet Smith regarding the sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall and others at the BBC. The Rotherham abuse trial has also been widely covered with the news of the perpetrators receiving many years in prison.
At Safeline we have witnessed more and more calls from people coming forward to disclose their abuse as a result of these high-profile arrests and investigations. This blanket coverage within the press of such stories can be a trigger point for survivors and their families bringing back their own memories and experiences. It’s hard to see all of this coverage and not be impacted by it.
So what is the best way for you to work through any issues and memories arising from all of this press coverage? One of the things you could do is to talk to someone and reach out for help. Many organisations, like Safeline offer a counselling service for survivors and their families. If you’re a survivor who feels alone and unable to talk to family or friends, then our telephone and online support service offers someone to listen when it is needed and can also give you information about other support services in your area.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the feelings or memories that are coming up then take some time to check in with yourself and ground yourself in the present. This can be done by 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 the anxiousness or stress levels have dropped, 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 sniffing something with a strong smell.
Becoming aware of the feelings that press stories trigger has been helpful for some survivors as they have felt less alone, knowing that they were not the only one who went through this kind of trauma. Some survivors have felt that they are more likely to be believed now that there is more awareness of how prevalent child abuse has been. Sadly it is 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men who have been targets of abuse or rape. Some survivors who see this coverage in the press have never told anyone about the abuse they have been through before. 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 and anonymous support and advice.
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