bool(true) string(8) "bot_left" Quick exit (ESC) Skip to content Skip to main content
  • A+
  • A-

How To Cope With Increased Media Reporting Around Sexual Assault





*Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

While the publication and dissemination of stories and survivor experiences help to ‘break the silence’ and secrecy around sexual assault, doing so can also raise a lot of issues for many, especially for survivors. Given the recent March 4 justice and high-profile campaigns there have been a lot of reports in the media and accompanying commentary.

Reading sexual assault reports and commentary can bring past traumatic experiences and feelings to the surface. At times, it can threaten to overwhelm us. This is completely understandable for us all but especially for people who have experienced their own abuse or other traumas. To help support you to manage the possible negative effects of media reporting about abuse or trauma, we thought it might be helpful to include the following tips from our Blue Knot Helpline counsellors. We hope some of the self-care and other strategies might be of help.

Firstly, what is a trigger? For survivors, triggers are anything in their daily life that reminds them of prior abuse, violence or trauma. While sometimes a survivor can connect the trigger what they experienced but at other times the connection is not so obvious. The person may experience bad and upsetting feelings reacting to something in the present, but without understanding where their reaction comes from.

If the person is unable to connect their present reactions to a past situation or events they may feel as though they are going ‘crazy’ or that something is wrong with them. This can be scary and confusing and can lead to feelings of fear, anxiety and shame, emotional numbing, social withdrawal, nightmares, eating problems, self-harm and suicidal ideation. If this happens to you, it is important to remember that you are not going ‘crazy’ but that you are experiencing a “normal response to abnormal events.”

If you have been ‘triggered’ by a story or an event in the media, consider the following suggestions to see what might help you feel more grounded:

  • Stop what you are doing and try to tune into what is happening in your body and/or mind. See if you can identify the trigger.
  • Pay attention to your senses – to images, smells, tastes, sounds and tactile experiences that remind you or your body of the original traumatic experience. Can you see a connection between the present event and past experiences?
  • Remember to breathe and stay connected to your body. Focus on calming yourself. Tell yourself some reassuring things. Check that you are taking slow and deep breaths. Relax your body. Do whatever works for you.
  • Reconnect with the present moment. Make an effort to notice what is around you, touch things, notice smells, and see where you are and who you are with.
  • Remind yourself that what you are doing and experiencing now is different to what happened during your abuse or other distressing experience.
  • Create a safe area in your home – a place you can go when you are feeling frightened or upset. Make an agreement with yourself that you will stay in that space until the feeling passes, one breath at a time. You may also set up objects in your safe area that calm and soothe you. Your safe space may be at a window seat, in your bed or in a comfortable chair.
  • It is important to know that you do have a choice and that it is OK to switch the television off or to avoid reading the newspaper and scrolling through social media. You may decide to limit your exposure to the news or to avoid it altogether particularly if you are already feeling overwhelmed.
  • Find a trusted person to talk to. It may be a relative, friend or neighbour or consider speaking to a trauma-informed counsellor on the Blue Knot Helpline by calling 1300 657 380 9am – 5pm Monday to Sunday AEST. The counsellor can support you to help you identify and understand your possible triggers, to feel safe and develop additional ways of coping. They can also help you with a referral for ongoing support if you feel you want or need it.


Please click the button below to go back to the Article Library.

Article Library
Australian Aboriginal Flag
Torres Strait Islands Flag

Blue Knot Foundation respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and pay respect to the First Nations Peoples and their Elders, past, present and future. We acknowledge their strength and resilience to thrive as Sovereign Owners and are honoured to journey with them on the path to healing and reconciliation. Please be aware that this website may contain the names, images and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may now be deceased.

Blue Knot Helpline and Redress Support Service1300 657 380
National Counselling and Referral Service - Disability1800 421 468