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Self-care is vital to healing

According to the fiscal year 2011 Department of Defense annual report on sexual assault in the military, victim reports per 1,000 Air Force members were at 1.6. The same report states that only 14 percent (about one in six) of the estimated 19,000 victims actually reported their attack. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Senior Airman Aaron-Forrest Wainwright)

Sexual assaults remain one of the most underreported violent crimes in our culture. According to a recent Gallup study measuring the prevalence of sexual assaults in the Air Force, formal reporting of incidents remains low. Among those who have been sexually assaulted, just 16.7 percent of women and only 5.8 percent of men reported their most recent incident. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Senior Airman Aaron-Forrest Wainwright)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Sexual assaults remain one of the most underreported violent crimes in our culture. According to a recent Gallup study measuring the prevalence of sexual assaults in the Air Force, formal reporting of incidents remains low.

Among those who have been sexually assaulted, just 16.7 percent of women and only 5.8 percent of men reported their most recent incident.

It's strongly encouraged that sexual assault survivors seek professional assistance following the sexual assault but for those unwilling to do so, there are things that can be done to assist the healing process.

When learning to survive a traumatic experience, taking care of yourself is very important.

Good self-care is a challenge for many people, and it can be especially challenging for survivors of rape, sexual assault, incest and sexual abuse. It can also be a significant part of the healing process and is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

Here is a list of things that might be helpful for you:

--Get support from friends and family - try to identify people you trust to validate your feelings and affirm your strengths.
--Talk about the assault and express feelings - choose when, where, and with whom to talk about the assault, and set limits by only disclosing information that feels safe for you to reveal.
--Exercise - jogging, aerobics, walking.
--Use relaxation techniques - yoga, massage, music, hot baths; prayer and/or meditation.
--Maintain a balanced diet and sleep cycle as much as possible.
--Pamper yourself - get a massage, have your nails done, go to a movie.
--Discover your creative "self". Playing and creativity can be beneficial in healing from hurt.
--Engage in a creative activity like piano, painting, gardening, handicrafts, etc.
--Take "time outs." Give yourself permission to take quiet moments to reflect, relax and rejuvenate - especially during times you feel stressed or unsafe.
--Consider writing or keeping a journal as a way of expressing thoughts and feelings. It's a beneficial way to release some of the hurt and anger.
--Hug those you love. Hugging releases the body's natural pain-killers.

Also, remember your sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates are here to help. They are committed to ensure you receive the best possible care. Recovering from a sexual assault is an extremely difficult process, and you don't have to go through it alone.

For more information call the Sexual Assault and Prevention office at 480-5597 or email them at Ramstein.SARC@us.af.mil.