Your Plan for Survival
Why do you need a plan?
Following the May 1996 assault, I asked myself …
Why I am disorientated?
Why did I have a shower?
Why didn’t all my ‘Survivor Pathway’ belief’s and skills work to support me?
Answer, it did. I was in shock and I didn’t realise this at first. Yes, I had judgement self-talk and flashbacks, however, my energy and my subconscious didn’t shut me down, it propelled me into transformation mode.
My ‘A-HA’ moment came while sitting in a session with my specialist sexual assault counsellor. YES, I’d rewired and had a positive-growth mindset, which while shaken had got me moving in the right direction, however, there was a missing step, ‘Preparedness’ through planning. Part of my transformation to an ‘Empowered Survivor’ was cementing subconscious and conscious ‘Action Planning’.
I learnt how important being ‘Prepared’ through planning was August 1996 when a taxi driver decided to rob me. With my counsellor I’d constructed an ‘Action Plan’ if confronted with a situation I didn’t feel safe in. I didn’t feel safe being slammed up against the boot of a cab and trying to stop my attacker from pushing me over a wall with 150-metre drop. I didn’t go into shock; I didn’t shut down. I had a plan and I consciously followed it. It kept me alive and enabled me to get to safety.
I added ‘Being Prepared’ into my ‘Survivor Pathway’.
Your plan will be personal to you; however, it could include the following:
Step 1 …
Decided on a support person you trust to put you first. Talk to them about being your support person, if needed.
Write yourself a message, to read after an upsetting event, focusing on all your strengths and achievements. Tell yourself you love yourself. Remind yourself ‘It’s not your fault’ and not to be hard on yourself.
Step 2 …
Make a call to emergency services:
Now, stop reading and put the emergency number for your country into your phone contacts at the top under ‘A’. This is an important step because trying to think straight in a ‘Crisis State’ is extremely difficult. Until you’ve experienced being in a ‘Crisis State’ you can’t imagine how hard it is remembering a simple number.
Your medical welfare is paramount directly following a sexual assault.
Write a script and practice saying it. No, it’s not dumb. If you can’t think straight how can you know how to help people help you? You can’t? So many women I’ve spoken to struggled in this area.
Practise saying: “Ambulance, I’ve been raped” or “I’ve been sexually assaulted”. The emergency service staff are experienced and trained to help you.
For me …
- When the operator asks which service, I’d say ambulance I’ve been raped. They then know I’m in crisis and what help I need.
- While you’re waiting for the ambulance tell the operator everything you can remember in as much detail as possible. I say this because the call is recorded and it’s as close to Ground Zero as possible. It allows you to give detailed information before shock sets in and valuable details get buried.
- If possible, while in the ambulance, stay on the phone with the operator getting the details of the event out.
Step 3 …
Taking Care of YOU medically:
- You are your number 1 priority. Tell the staff how you’re feeling. They can help you feel safe if you tell them how you’re feeling. If you’re upset, it can be difficult for staff to know how to help you. I had my bed pushed up against the wall and built a cocoon of blankets.
- Have the swabs done for collection of evidence, AND, importantly to check in case you’ve contracted sexually transmitted diseases so you can get vital treatment as soon as possible.
- Make a statement if asked. You can decide later if you want to formally make a police complaint. There are a lot of opportunities to change your mind about prosecuting the predator. Get the details out, it’s a relief, and then get on with transforming.
- Take the morning after pill. This is personal. I took it.
- Make sure you have somewhere to go with someone you trust when you leave the hospital.
- Make sure you have a specialist sexual assault counsellor appointment and Survivor Coach to call or call them prior to leaving the hospital.
- REMEMBER You are your sole focus don’t allow anyone around you who isn’t coping or who isn’t positively supporting you.
- Forgive those you love if they don’t cope. Understand they might not be coping because they might not know how to cope, or their own beliefs might be working against their ability to support you positively. Don’t hold onto this type of disappointment because it will add to the trauma.
Step 4 …
Ground Zero – Be Safe:
While making your call to emergency get somewhere safe, if possible. I would look for areas such as lit areas, like a bus shelter, a neighbouring house if I know them or get into the backseat of my car and lock the door. One night, walking home I realised I was being followed. I walked in the middle of the road so I could see someone coming.
Think about places in and around your home or places you usually frequent and consciously think about safe areas around these locations you can get to after a sexual assault. Visualise these places and know why you chose them.
It’s important to know where you’re going if you do get going because a vulnerable person randomly roaming could lead to further issues. In new areas I pay attention to my surroundings and park strategically in case I need to get to my car.
You might not be able to walk, so make the call to emergency services.
If you think about it grab anything that will have DNA on it from the assault site.
Step 5 …
Don’t listen to what anyone has to say unless it’s helpful. Don’t listen to other people’s opinions. What you want and what you think are all that matters …
- Focus on what you think without judgement.
- Monitor self-talk and tell the blame voice to ‘Be Quiet’
- Tell yourself ‘It’s Not My Fault’
Once you are seeing your counsellor and coach you can start to make decisions, and begin the process of becoming a Survivor, on your terms.
Recite the steps of your plan regularly in your head so that when you’re in shock and totally vulnerable, you will automatically know what to do. Remember if you are unable to do this how you planned it forgiven yourself and accept “It’s not your fault.”
These five simple steps are a basic plan which can make a very real difference should you find yourself in a traumatic state. Whether you build on these steps or have different steps ensure you have a plan so you’re in some way ‘Prepared’.