Here we are, back in Lockdown. The first Lockdown was desperately hard for survivors of child sexual abuse. People had so much time to think and remember the past. Survivors told us they were having more intrusive memories about the abuse, high levels of distress, anxiety and depression. Some people had thoughts of suicide.

I think this Lockdown is going to be even harder. We are moving into winter so we will have fewer opportunities to be outdoors. We will be confined to our homes and have fewer options to meet friends and family. The short days and long dark nights could seem endless. The impact on our well-being is likely to be even more negative.

So what can survivors do to support themselves during this time? How can they manage the distressing thoughts and feelings?

The most important thing is to be kind and gentle to yourself. Do not have unrealistic expectations about what you should or shouldn’t think, feel or do. Notice all the self-critical things you say to yourself and challenge them. Feeling bad about yourself is part of the impact of child sexual abuse but it is not who you really are.

You can also take charge of your self-care. Eating well and getting some exercise every day will improve your mood. Think about the things you enjoy doing. It could be a favourite TV show, a Zoom call with a friend, going for a run, taking a long bath, cooking a favourite meal – the list is endless. Find time for at least one enjoyable activity every day. If you are feeling anxious, have you thought about taking a yoga or tai chi class online? This can be really helpful.

None of us can endure this time alone. It is really crucial to reach out for support if you are struggling. Think about friends or family members who you trust. Take a risk and talk to them about how you are feeling - you might be pleasantly surprised by their response. And know that One in Four services are operating right through this pandemic, some of them online. We are here for you – all it takes is a phone call.

Maeve Lewis
CEO, One in Four 01 6624070