Sexual trauma victims said self-care and support groups were some of the most helpful methods for healing

Common themes like self-care, support groups, and therapy were the most helpful ways women coped with and moved forward from sexual trauma.

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Common themes like self-care, support groups, and therapy were the most helpful ways women coped with and moved forward from sexual trauma.
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  • One in five women will have to deal with the physical and mental aftermath of sexual trauma in their lifetimes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The way they’re taught to cope with that trauma could greatly affect their experiences in future sexual relationships they form.
  • According to a new study, presented today at the annual meeting for The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, healing strategies that involve an empowerment-based approach involving self-care and support groups are most successful in helping women who have experienced sexual trauma move forward.
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One in five women will have to deal with the physical and mental aftermath of sexual trauma in their lifetimes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the way they’re taught to cope with that trauma could greatly affect their experiences in future sexual relationships they form.

According to a new study, presented today at the annual meeting for The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, healing strategies that are rooted in self-empowerment, like self-care and community support, are most successful in helping women who have experienced sexual trauma move forward.

To determine this, London-based sex researcher Laura Vowels and her team interviewed 41 women with a history of sexual trauma who also considered themselves healed from the trauma and currently in healthy relationships. These women were between 18 and 55 years old and the majority were white and heterosexual. All of the women were cisgender.

They found common themes like self-care in the form of yoga, mindfulness, or journaling, as well as joining social support groups, working to support other trauma survivors, talking about their trauma, and going to therapy were the most helpful ways women coped with and moved forward from sexual trauma.

Escape-based strategies were least helpful for women who healed from trauma

On the other hand, women said strategies like exercise, alcohol and drug use, avoiding social settings, and casual sex weren’t helpful in healing from their personal sexual trauma.

According to study co-author Katarina Hoskins, the women said they tended to overuse or abuse these ineffective strategies as a means of escape rather than healing, and that could explain why they didn’t work for most.

“Knowing these themes [that work and don’t work] can help a therapist come up with a great toolbox women can work with,” to heal from sexual trauma, Hoskins said.