Early warning signs
Your mind and body has its own way of letting you know that you are feeling unsafe and/or there might be danger, known as Early Warning Signs. If something or someone starts to make you feel unsafe you might start to notice some or most of these signs:
- Heart racing or beating hard likes its pounding out of your chest
- Butterflies or sickly feelings in your stomach
- Sweating on your palms, under your arms, on your face
- Vomiting, wetting yourself or defecating yourself or feelings like you are going to.
- Feeling very cold with Goosebumps or your hair on your body or head standing on end
- Shaking or feeling weak in the body like the knees or legs
- Wide mouth open and maybe a dry throat or mouth
- Confused or racing thoughts, even feeling dizzy or having a headache
If you have been through a sexual assault or family violence you may have noticed these Early Warning Signs at the time. These are part of your bodies’ safety system and help you to; run away (Flight), or attack the unsafe (Fight). However it is very normal that in an unsafe situation you feel unable to do anything at all (Freeze).
After a sexual assault or family violence you may also experience Early Warning Signs now with various people, experiences or thoughts when the situation is safe. Counselling can help you understand Early Warning Signs and support you to feel less triggered in safe situations or around trustworthy people.
Sometimes the person who you are feeling the Early Warning Signs around is someone you trust or love. It may be someone who takes care of you or who teaches you. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and speak with someone you trust or a professional. A SECASA counsellor/advocate is always willing to speak with you but you can always speak to your Doctor, Psychologist, and Counsellor at your School.
Something is not right in my family
Talking about Early Warning Signs may seem tricky or scary to do, particularly if the person is in your family. You might have thoughts and feelings like:
- “I’m going to hurt and upset people I care about”
- “This could make things worse”
- “What will this mean for my family or for me”
- “How will people react”
The best way to work these out and to feel safe again is to talk about it. If you do not have a trusted adult in your family who would do something to keep you safe no matter who it is about then find someone you trust outside of the family. A SECASA counsellor/advocate is always willing to speak with you but you can always speak to your Doctor, Psychologist, and Counsellor at your School.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE ALL THE TIME and NONE OF THIS IS YOUR FAULT. Families are meant to love you, support you and keep you safe. Families are not meant to make you feel bad for your feelings or thoughts, and they are not meant to make you feel uncomfortable, powerless or unsafe.