Planning a big night out and healing trauma? Here's 5 tips to ease the anxiety.Apr 15, 2023
TW: Mentions sexual assault.
For most people the idea of having a night on the town with mates would put a massive smile on their face and fill them with excitement and anticipation. I used to feel like that. I'd buy a new outfit, pack an overnighter, have an address on who's house we'd be meeting, pick up pre-drinks and that's about it for planning.
But after experiencing sexual assault by a trusted friend on two occasions, life changed. As many of you can relate the life long impacts of our experiences completely tips our world upside down. The person we were before, we're no longer. The life we had before now looks very different. The world we live in now feels very unsafe. A shade of distrust, insecurity and caution now play havoc in our heads.
Today, planning a big night out with friends fills me with dread. To the point, I can work myself up with so many fearful 'what if's' that I cancel plans all together. But I have found ways to manage it because I refuse to allow the perpetrators to take anything else away from me. Plus, it's my fucking RIGHT to party and feel safe. And I'm a mum to toddler now, so my social life is limited so when it's my best friends birthday, we're gonna party RIGHT!
So here's five tips to ease your anxiety and start feeling excited about your night out. Who knows, what if you have the best night of your life?
1. Develop a safety plan: Consider who you will be with, where you will be going, and how you will get there and back. It may be helpful to have a trusted friend or support person who can stay with you throughout the night. OMG! I wish I had of done more of this when I was younger because seriously, I've had some shockers. I remember I was 20. It was Mardi Gras and I was lost in Hyde Park. My phone battery died. I only knew my dads number. I had to borrow someone's phone to call him. He couldn't help because I had no idea where I was. Luckily, the group of people that leant me their phone offered their place for me to crash. Um scary much! Yes, I had to stay at some strangers place. Not fucking safe. So, let's do more of this. And have a plan. Tonight, I've organised with my friend (who is also a victim-survivor) to look out for each other and if one of us wants to go home early we will leave together in a taxi. I'm also going to charge my phone up and have my best friends address in my phone and written on a card in my handbag JIC.
2. Practice grounding techniques: PTSD symptoms can be triggered by sensory stimuli, such as loud noises or crowds. Focus on your breathing, engage your senses (e.g. touch, smell, taste), and remind yourself of your current surroundings. Whether you have a diagnosis or not, most people who have experienced trauma will have symptoms of PTSD. This awareness has helped me so much!! So if you didn't know that, I hope that brings you some relief. You're not fucked-up and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are having a normal human response to an unnormal experience. If I'm out and I need to ground myself because I'm feeling my fight or flight response starting up, I like to remind myself, I'm safe now and I'm in control. I like to wiggle my toes, sit down or take myself away for some quiet, alone time or go to the bathroom and close my eyes and breathe. And if it gets too much I can always call my partner or go home with my friend.
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