Self care within the #MeToo movement

Jenessa Williams

Women are incredible beings. They are strong, tenacious, capable and powerful, and even in the face of adversity, the things that women can achieve when they pull together are truly remarkable.

Never has this statement been more apparent than in recent months. Sparked by sickening revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, The #TimesUp and #MeToo movements have created an enormous conversation around the world concerning the mistreatment of women through sexual abuse, inspiring women to tell their truths and emancipate themselves from the traumas that they should never have had to deal with.

While these movements are wholly positive in the advancement of women’s rights, they can also be deeply upsetting and triggering to those who have had similar experiences or are concerned about friends or family.

If you’re finding the news upsetting, want to do more to help the cause or are looking for ways to deal with your own trauma, here is some key advice to help maintain self-care within the #MeToo movement.

Take a social media detox

If the news is affecting you, it’s okay to take a step back. Your mental health must take priority—choosing to distance yourself from the news to avoid triggering your own doesn’t make you a bad person. Quite the opposite; it’s a sign of strength that will much better equip you to be a good friend and listener in the future.

If you’re finding it difficult to see other people’s stories online, considering muting specific words or phrases on social media or take a break completely. Replace that scrolling time with long walks, time spent with friends or indulgent baths with comforting music—whatever it takes to make you feelcenteredd, grounded and in control of your happiness.

Join a survivors group

Lots of sexual assault survivors find comfort in talking with others who have had similar experiences in a group setting. These interactions may allow honesty that you might find difficult with a friend, solidarity in recovery or practical advice that will aid your personal wellbeing in the wake of a trauma.

There is a huge choice of groups available in the UK that deal with sexual abuse survivors of all kinds – and The both have lengthy lists of services near you as well as specific helplines you can call for advice or a listening ear. Trained in confidentiality and client protection, you can talk as much or as little as you like, taking things entirely at your own pace.  

Find comfort in literature

Finding kinship in reading can be an incredibly powerful way of coping if you’re feeling alone or isolated. There are some fantastically powerful and emotive books out there concerning survival after sexual abuse, many of which written by the women who have experienced it firsthand.

New York Times bestseller The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk is a wonderfully useful read for both survivors and their families, offering empathetic advice on treatment with a solid grounding in medical theory.

Alice Sebold’s Lucky is a similarly difficult but rewarding read, a memoir that is startling in its candour but raises some hugely important topics of personal strength and the flaws in our society. 

Join a Women's March

The injustice that has lead to the #MeToo movement can leave us feeling angry, frustrated and desperate to make a change for our children. Channel this energy into good by participating in a Women’s March.

Giving a voice to the voiceless and making a statement that is impossible for the government and world media to ignore, marching is a peaceful way to show that enough is enough, and has been instrumental in significant political legislation changes through history.

Having organized an enormous Time’s Up anniversary rally this January, the team behind Women’s March London are currently accepting donations to help plan for the next event.

It’s never too late to tell

One in ten women have experienced child sexual abuse, yet 75 per cent of survivors have never spoken to anybody about it, through embarrassment, fear of not being believed or concern over aggravating the perpretator.

No matter how long ago an assault, it is never too late to talk. Whether that is talking to a friend, a relative, a therapist or the police, opening up about an assault can be a key step in self-healing and trauma recovery, and, if it’s what you are comfortable with, can lead to a potential conviction for the perpetrator.

If you’re not ready to verbalize your feelings out loud, keeping a diary or journal can help get things on paper and begin the process of separating yourself from the incident. Remember that none of this is your fault, and all of the emotions you have are completely valid. No person deserves to be assaulted, harmed or made to feel uncomfortable, no matter the person’s stature, your relationship with them or your age.

If you do find yourself feeling guilty, find ways to gently coax yourself out of it. Imagine what you might say to a friend who had been through the same thing—would you tell them it was their fault? Be as kind to yourself as you would to others, and take comfort in the fact that although things may seem difficult now, they can and will get easier with time.

With a wealth of information online and through helplines, you are never really alone.