Doncaster Rape & Sexual Abuse Counselling Service

Emotional First Aid

22nd Jun 21 | Go Back

In the weeks, months of even years after a person has experienced sexual abuse, assault or rape it can be common to experience things like panic attacks, feeling emotionally overwhelmed or even feeling numb and separate from any emotion; sometimes to an extent it may not feel like you’re in your own body. These feelings might last for short amounts of time but can feel very scary when they happen. As with all feelings, they will eventually subside and pass. Emotional first aid at these times can give you some tools to try and bring you back to a more comfortable and connected place. They may help you to feel more in control again both physically and emotionally. Before looking at some emotional first aid techniques, let’s think about why this happens to you.

Your brain’s response to danger

You may have heard of the Flight-Flight-Freeze response. These are different behaviours that the brain makes happen when a person feels frightened or under threat. The brain tells the body that they need to fight against danger (fight), run away (flight) or become still and unnoticeable (freeze) to survive. These are very powerful instincts that are built into the brain and body. Sometimes when a person has experienced sexual abuse the brain is on hyper alert to recognize danger. The brain may initiate the Fight-Flight-Freeze response when a situation isn’t dangerous but may have similar sounds, images, smells or even feelings. Your brain is trying to recognize danger and keep you safe. This may be when a panics attack, feeling emotionally overwhelmed or separating completely from your emotions can happen. At these times, your brain needs some help to calm and register that there isn’t any danger around. Emotional first aid can help do this.

Techniques to try

We call the following Grounding Techniques. There isn’t a right or wrong way of doing these techniques. Once you get the hang of them, you might like to explore finding your own techniques that work.

Controlled Breathing The 5 Senses The Alphabet Game Sensory Play
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