Going along with last week's theme of practicing coping skills, this week we're going to focus on practicing boundary-setting, asking for things you need, and standing up for yourself.
Boundary setting is something many survivors want or need to learn in order to feel more in control of their lives. Abuse and rape can often leave us with low-emotional boundaries: we have a hard time saying no, in feeling confident that our bodies are ours to decide what to do with, and it can be really hard to stick up for ourselves when we're being mistreated.
Learning how to set boundaries can seem like a monumental task, and one way to make the process simpler is to practice setting boundaries on a small level, before working up to setting boundaries with bigger things.
One idea is to start setting boundaries by saying, "No, thanks," when you're offered something you don't like. Say no to the waiter offering you dessert, say no when asked if you need a glass of water, say no when asked if you'd like to sign up for a credit card.
Once you get the hang of saying no when it doesn't matter, you can work up to saying no on bigger levels: if a friend asks you out on a night you really need alone time, or to try asking for something you need if you haven't been offered it.
The next step up might be saying, "What you said really hurt my feelings. Can we talk about it?" or, "I really don't enjoy that type of joke. Can we change the subject?"
Building up slowly will help give you confidence, and also give you lots of experience of how to say "no" and how to ask for something you need.
This week's questions are:
- Have you had difficulty learning how to set boundaries?
- How has the abuse or rape you survived affected your boundaries, or your ability to set boundaries?
- What are some small ways you can practice saying no, asking for what you need, or standing up for yourself?