It's common to have nightmares after experiencing rape or sexual violence. Below are some ways you can try to manage your nightmares.
Nightmares are very scary and can feel real. They might be similar to flashbacks except they occur when we're asleep. They often wake us up and can make us scared of going back to sleep.
Here are some things to help you cope.
Remind yourself it's a nightmare
Remember it is just a nightmare, or a memory of something that is in the past. You are safe.
Look at our grounding section to learn how to ground yourself after a nightmare.
This might be by holding a comforting object, drinking a hot drink or having a hot shower.
Try to relax through deep breathing, meditation, yoga or anything that helps you feel less anxious.
Keep a diary of your nightmares
Remembering your nightmares may sound like the last thing you want to do, but it can help you identify any patterns.
It might be that your nightmares involve certain images or content, which you might be able to dispel by writing or talking about them.
You might also be able to identify triggers. For example, did you have a nightmare after talking about your experience? After watching an upsetting film?
Talk to your partner
If you sleep with a partner, talk to them. There might be something they can do to help after you've had a nightmare. This might be giving you your space or it might be offering you comfort - discuss what feels right for you.
Whatever it is, they should respect your needs and wishes.