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Supporting Survivors

Understanding Gender-Based Violence

How to cope with triggers

As intense and powerful as they can be, with time and some cognitive coaching, triggers can become less meaningful. It can be possible for you to face a trigger and not be overwhelmed by it.

The first step in getting to this point is to identify your triggers, and the specific symptoms you feel when faced with them. This will help you understand your triggers, manage them, and eventually dissociate with them so they don’t mean as much anymore. One effective way to handle a trigger is through grounding.

Feeling triggered?

Ground yourself by playing

the 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 Game

How to ground yourself

Grounding brings your focus to the present by taking note of your surroundings and placing them in the here and now.

An example of this is the 5-4-3-2-1 game:

Keep in mind, however, that while grounding is a great tool to cope with triggers, it is a short term strategy, and in the long term, cognitive processing therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy are highly recommended.

These therapies can be tailored to your experience of PTSD and are effective ways of processing trauma in general.

Find out more about triggers and tools for dealing with triggers.

How the brain is affected during trauma

When a traumatic incident is taking place, it’s rare for us to be able to make sound, conscious decisions. While experiencing trauma, most decisions are subconscious and a result of a hormonal rush.

During a sexual assault, the part of the brain responsible for feeling emotions such as fear (the amygdala), recognizes threats and unleashes a chain of neural activity which allows the body to stop all unnecessary functions (such as digestion) and focus all resources on the threat at hand.

Unless you’re trained for highly stressful situations, it’s hard to choose your response

Unless trained for highly stressful situations (such as police or military forces), it is very difficult to make cognitive decisions such as fight or flight.

Our brains resort to default behaviors of survival, which may include:

To read more about the psychology of trauma, check out these links on trauma and the brain.

If I report, will the police lay charges?

The police review, and take seriously, every report of sexual assault submitted. Whether the police lay charges or not depends on how you report and the information available to them.

If you submit an anonymous report, the Police won’t launch an investigation and no charges will be laid.

Anonymous reporting is important for establishing hot spots and providing valuable data about sexual assault in your community.

Police will investigate if you provide your contact details along with your report. An investigating officer will contact you to begin the process.

If the police don’t lay charges, it doesn’t mean the sexual assault didn’t happen

Determining if charges can be laid

After an investigation, police aren’t always able to lay charges. This doesn’t mean that the police don’t believe you or that the sexual assault didn’t happen.

Determining whether charges can be laid is a decision made after the police consult with Crown prosecutors. Together they discuss the details of the case and offences to determine if charges can be laid.

When no charges are laid, it may mean there isn’t enough evidence to prove a criminal charge in court. If this happens, the police officer will explain the decision to you.

Unsolved cases stay open

Sometimes offenders aren’t identified or caught. Unsolved sexual assault cases are never closed, they remain open.

If more information is received, the investigation will continue, which can lead to an arrest or charges.

Regional Guide for Muskoka-Perry Sound

Download the Regional Guide for Muskoka – Parry Sound as one pdf or each section individually. Keep these resources available for when she needs them.