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Healing from Trauma

Graphic of the text "healing comes in waves" on top of a yellow background with a wave on the right.

You Define What Healing Means to You 

Sexual violence and gender-based vioelnce can impact you in many ways including psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, finanically and physically.

It's important to remember that there is no right way to heal, feel or react. You may experience a wide range of feelings such as shock, fear, disbelief, recurring memories, outrage, confusion, sadness, despair, and anger.  You may choose to heal alone, with friends and family, or with the support of professionals. You may tell no one, a very select group of people, or your whole community. All of your feelings and choices are valid.

Consent Comes First is here to hold space for you was you navigate all the feelings and processes. Reach out to our email osvse@ryerson.ca to connect with a member of our team. We are here to listen and support.

 

What can you do?

You Are Not Alone 

You can talk to a counsellor, call a distress line or get peer-to-peer support. We can make a referral for you to receive counselling through Ryerson or with a external community resource. We can explore with you what resources would be helpful for you both on and off-campus. Two resources on campus are:

  • The Centre for Student Development and Counselling, opens in new window: They provides confidential, on-campus, individual and group counselling. 416-979-5195
  • Ryerson Medical Centre, opens in new window: You can obtain medical attention at the Ryerson Medical Centre during regular business hours but they cannot provide specialized sexual assault care. They can test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy. If necessary, referrals to local hospitals or specialists can be arranged. Payment through OHIP or a similar out-of province insurance plan is required. 416-979-5070

Self-Care is a Radical Act

Self-Care is ways we nourish ourselves. It doesn't mean we don't recognize the way systems directly impede our ability to show up for ourselves i.e. captialism, racism, colonalism. 

Here are free, online resources that you can access for more self-care information and activities. Look further down this page for more ideas about how you can practice self-care. 

You Voice Matters

There are many ways to have your voice heard about sexual violence and gender-justice. Speaking out can be empowering for some survivors if and when you are ready. Alternatively, you may choose to tell no one, tell only yourself, share your story in your self-help group, or confide in trusted friends or family. Anything you choose to survive is powerful and is your choice.

There are many ways to take action on campus through group programming, advisories, workshops and events including joining the Consent Action Team, our peer leadership program. Learn more ways to get involved on our Take Action Page. Have your own project idea or campaign? Reach out to Consent Comes First we would love to work with you. 

You Get to Define What Justice Means to You

Justice can look different for each of us. Some of us will tell no one, some of us still need to tell ourselves, some of us will want to share with close friend and some of us will want the world to know. We may report right away and some of us may wait for years before telling anyone. Some of us may choose to go to the police and some of us may choose to use alternatives like transformative justice. We get to choose what happens next. 

People may judge the choices we make or have to make. But no one knows your experience better than you. Reporting to the police is only one option of a multitude of choices, and for many survivors from marginalized, criminalized and policed communities, it may not be a viable option. Our social location including but not limited to race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability, impacts not only the way we are targeted for sexual violence but how we can access support and if we are believed. Use this guide to gather the information you need to decide what works for you. Remember whatever choice you make, it’s your decision.

Connect with us if you want to explore your options osvse@ryerson.ca. You can also check our Reporting page that gives options for both internal and external reporting. If you are interested in transformative justice you can learn more about it in the Creative Interventions Toolkit, external link, read Dreaming Accountability , external link by Mia Mingus, The Peak Magazine, Transformative justice issue, external link By: The Peak Magazine (various authors). Recommended articles: “Relationship tools” (Erica Horechka, pp. 23-26); “On accountability: The role of choice” (Micah Hobbes-Frazier, pp. 27-28).

Your Body Your Choice

If you have been recently sexually assaulted, you may want to seek medical attention. This is a free service that you can go to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) or pregnancy as well as document any of the harm your body was subjected to. It's important to note that you are not obligated to reported to report to the police if you recieve medical attention. Consent Comes First staff can support you by helping to connect you to services and attending appointments with you where possible. Learn more on our Getting Medical Attention page. 

Self Care

Self-care is about creating and maintaining practices that help you sustain your energy and spirit. When you give to others but neglect yourself, feelings of resentment can arise because you sacrifice your own needs. Taking care of yourself allows you to enjoy time with others while also sustaining yourself. Self-care is not selfish. It is being intentional in your day to reflect, nurture your body, remember your heart, grieve your sorrows and attend to your daily needs. Below are some ideas for you to attend to your self-care. 

Have ideas for a self-care project or campaign?

Email us at osvse@ryerson.ca - we would love to work with you!

Three girls sitting on a couch relaxing.

Illustration by Jonathan Soren Davidson for Disabled And Here.

Consent Comes First, the Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education created a series of colouring book for people affected by sexual violence and supporters. Feel free to print and share the colouring book. Post your coloured images on social media with the hashtag #ConsentComesFirst. 

These are a choose-your-own-adventure-book. Fill the pages with colour, journal when it feels right and skip pages that are too much. You are writing a new story. This colouring book is also an invitation to respond with care when someone discloses. The most important thing you can do as an ally is to listen. A compassionate response creates an opening for someone to feel heard, respected and to build trust. 

Organization or institutions are welcomed download and print the colouring book to use with clients but we ask if you using sections in your own materials or repurposing the colouring book please email us for permission osvse@ryerson.ca

Select an image below to download PDFs of our most recent colouring books.

We had the honour of colloborating with Olivya Leblanc from Harvest Moon Designs to create a video about beading fringe earrings. Beading has a very long artistic and cultural history among Indigenous people. Olivya graciously created this video for survivors to connect, heal and be mindful. Beading can creates an opportunity to process the physical and emotional symptoms of trauma. Many different parts of our brains are engaged when we craft such as our focus, memory, problem solving, and information processing centers. Miigwech Olivya for creating this beautiful tutorial. 

Olivya from Harvest Moon Designs wearing fringe earrings.

Olivya Leblanc is a Slovene, French Canadian and First Nations portrait photographer, art director & beadworker from Tkaronto (Toronto; Mohawk word meaning "where there are trees standing in the water"). Skilled in various mediums such as ceramics, beading and illustration, she uses her art to further explore, honour and understand her identity and what it means to be a mixed indigenous woman. Armed with ancestral wisdom, she seeks out to reveal the beauty in the world and others around her, and is intrigued by the memories that touch us. You can learn more about her and her craft at here website https://harvestmoondesigns.ca/. 

Collective care is collective healing. We are honoured to work with Olivya from Harvest Moon Designs to show you how a pair of her earrings are constructed. Who knows, it may inspire you to learn a new skill or ground yourself in a practice that brings you joy.

For many, safe spaces are a santuary point where we can recharge and feel feel a sense of validation and belonging. Here at Consent Comes First, we've created a variety of digital rooms for students and survivors across many backgrounds, to help cultivate these feelings while navigating the online world. 

Each link will take you to an interactive page, where you can click on different objects that will each transport you to a different, kinder place on the internet. Take care! 

google slide A room full of items aimed to bring wellness to LGBTQ2S+ , external link

LGBTQ2S+ Wellness

Common Responses of Survivors 

Everyone is affected by sexualized violence differently. Our ways of coping, reactions and access to supports are shaped by age, gender, race, ability, class and other social locations. 

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • An inability to concentrate or focus
  • Fear of leaving a safe space
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Appear flat or calm
  • Headaches

Each one of these reactions is normal to a traumatic event. There is not a right or wrong way to act when telling one's story of sexual violence. That's why it is so important to show support to all acts of disclosure of sexual violence or any other acts of violence.