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GBV & the Humanitarian Community - PART 4
DFID UK Pakistan doctor
by
Dr. Linda Wagener
on
February 24, 2012
| Gender Concerns |

If you are a victim of GBV, what can you do to heal?

Physical safety should be your first concern. Do whatever is necessary and possible to prevent further attacks. Beyond physical safety is your psychological security. Your own sense of safety is an important matter. To restore it, you will need to think through, perhaps with a concerned friend, what would help you feel safer. Maybe it's being accompanied whenever possible, adding security protection in your residence, staying with a friend for a time, being in more frequent contact with friends or family at home, etc. Though it may feel silly or embarrassing, it is essential that you insist on procedures and precautions that will make you feel safe.

Filing a report. Whether to file a report must be your own decision. Filing a report is not an easy choice, because it means you will have to continue to be involved with the situation in a way you may not choose to do. On the other hand, it may help you to regain a sense of empowerment to do something constructive.  It can also contribute to the future safety of others by identifying dangerous people or situations. Of course, filing a report does not necessarily bring about justice. Even cases where legal justice can be pursued may not bring psychological closure. You will need to work through the healing process regardless of the legal pathway and outcome of your case.

Obtain medical attention. If you have sustained any physical injuries, as soon as possible it is important to find a facility where they have the training and expertise to provide you will appropriate treatment.

Seek counseling or social support.  People often find it useful to have someone to talk to. In fact, telling your story to others can be one of the most important pathways to healing. Who are the trusted friends, family, clergy, or colleagues who will listen? This can be very important to overcome the shame, helplessness, anger, and isolation that often follow. How and when you choose to tell your story is up to you. You may choose to do that publicly, in your local community where it happened or through writing about your experience for others, or more privately, in your friendship circle or faith community. Whether, when, how, and where you choose to seek social support is part of your path to empowerment.

Use your tried and true coping responses or find new ones. Some people write in journals, meditate, pray, or read self-help or spiritual books. Others prefer to be with people. Sleep and physical exercise are essential to releasing the body’s natural healing processes. These can counter depression and anxiety and increase your feeling of physical strength.

Restore control in your life.  Often this involves making choices and decisions even about small aspects of your life. The safety and security steps you decide on will be part of this process of restoring control. It could also mean making choices about how you spend your time, whether you take a leave from work or decide to spend some time away from the town where the attack took place, etc. Helplessness is invariably part of a trauma response. Each victim has to find her way through helplessness to empowerment, which is the journey from victim to survivor.

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