Content warning: this article discusses sexual assault.

 

How to Cope with “News Cycle Trauma”

 

For the third fall in a row, America has witnessed very public accusations of sexual assault against powerful leaders in government and in Hollywood. And with each season, survivors of sexual assault are flooded with reminders of their own experiences. In an age of constant media saturation, the news cycle can be overwhelming. Even if you aren’t a survivor of sexual assault, the constant exposure to stories of assault and trauma can be in and of themselves, traumatic.

 

Some therapists working with survivors are reporting greater levels of distress than during last year’s Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo coverage. Current hashtags like #WhyIDidntReport may remind survivors of their own unreported assaults, perhaps many decades old. Other survivors are just beginning to realize how they blamed themselves for years for sexual assaults that occurred when they were under the influence of alcohol. A combination of current events and painful memories can be particularly challenging for survivors of sexual assault.

 

If you are a survivor, the best thing you can do is to give yourself permission to take a break from the news. Set a limit on the consumption of media, turn off notifications, and do whatever it is that supports and nurtures you – go for a walk, have coffee with a loved one, connect with a therapist or a peer if you need additional support, or take some action in service of something you believe in. And if you want to support a survivor in your community, you can let them know that you will be there if they want to talk.

 

Here are some resources and many more additional thoughts on how to take care of yourself and support the survivors in your life during this difficult–and for some, re-traumatizing– time.

 

For further exploration:

 

Local and national resources for survivors:

Provides free in-person counseling to survivors of sexual assault and their significant others. Also offers accompaniment to police, court and hospital, a 24-hour hotline, support groups, and community education.

  • Highland Sexual Assault Response Team

The Sexual Assault Center can be reached 24-hours a day at (510) 534-9290 or (510) 534-9291

  • Alameda County Family Justice Center: is made up of over 30 onsite and over 50 offsite agencies and programs that provide services and support to individuals and families who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse, elder and dependent adult abuse, and stalking.

RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Response Line: 800.656.HOPE (4673)