Handling Difficult Feelings

It's normal to experience different emotions – let us help to identify what you're feeling and what to do about them.

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence and or sexual assault regardless of their age, gender, ethnic background, ability, social status, or physical appearance.

Survivors may have painful feelings as a result of their abuse experience which can be triggered by circumstances that are somehow reminders of the abuse. It is normal to feel angry, ashamed, afraid, confused or disoriented, shock, withdrawn, powerless, helpless, sad, depressed, and guilty following an assault or upon hearing about an assault that is close to home.

  • Anxiety is the result of not knowing what to expect or how to act in social situations.
  • Fear and anger are both natural responses to act of assault or abuse.
  • Sadness results from recognizing that someone in a power of authority or another trusted adult could abuse you.
  • Shame and guilt tell you that you still hold yourself responsible for what happened.
  • Rage is the built-up bottle of the anger that could never be safely expressed within your family/community/society.
  • Frustration is the feeling you are left with when nothing seems to go your way.
  • Confusion is a sign that you don’t know why something has happened or what you can do about it. Isolation/Avoidance from others is the result of too many disappointments.
  • Helplessness, hopelessness and powerlessness are the feelings that tell you that you gave up with life

Survivors often use a number of mechanisms to numb themselves when the feelings get too strong. Some may adopt a “workaholic”, “stuff” the feelings by compulsive eating or to numb them by drinking or using drugs.

Certain feelings such as anger and rage may be so strong that they dominate a survivor’s internal life and overshadow the other feelings that may also be there. Learning to adjust the intensity of these feelings is a journey and an important part of recovery.

Below are a few things you can do if you are feeling this way:

  • Talk to someone
  • Do something physical: exercise reduces stress
  • Take a little time to relax, breathe and unwind
  • Cry if you need to
  • Do something that makes you smile
  • Laugh when you can
  • Accept your feelings. They’re all ok. Really.
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Write your feelings down
  • Write in a journal
  • Attend church​/Pray/Mediate
  • Spend time in nature • Read poetry or inspiring quotes
  • Make art. Do a craft project

There is Help:

  • Talk to your counsellor, psychologist
  • Reach out to safe & trusted friend or family member or Elder for support
  • Elmwood Community Resource Centre Counselling at (204) 982-1720 ext 201
  • Klinic’s 24-Hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line ​​​(204) 786-8631
  • Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Emergency Department ​(204) 787-3167, ask for the sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE)*

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