This is a big topic at the heart of PTSD. Our bodies keep setting off the alarms over nothing because we’ve been wrong before. So, how do we thoroughly convince every part of ourselves that we are safe now?
I struggled with this topic, and I still do. My attacker is still free thanks to covid-related court delays. And he’s a few minutes’ drive away (unless he’s moved). He was crazy enough to attack me before; what would stop that from happening again?
It’s an unpopular opinion, but I don’t believe restraining orders do anything. What they would have forced me to do is reveal my location again if I moved so that he could “avoid” me. And I know all too well what can happen before the cops arrive. So, getting a restraining order wasn’t at the top of my list.
Things that made me feel safe so far:
Blocking all access my attacker had to my information. This was an onslaught of blockings across sites, changing passwords, and changing my phone number.
Replacing my wooden splinters of a door with a steel door. (I know. It’s a placebo. Anyone can come through a window.)
Giant veteran I married who knows plenty about guns.
Fierce German Shepherd who hates strangers coming near me.
Things I think might help others to achieve that sense of safety:
Taking a shooting course and feeling comfortable with guns. (I am a tree-hugging hippie. This one has been tough for me to get used to.)
Any security features added to a home, like cameras or alarm systems.
Martial arts courses. (I am not ready to do this one yet. I think I would freak out if someone sparred with me.)
Staying in shape. Running and getting stronger seem to be helpful across the board.
I hope this gives you a place to start as you work on convincing yourself you’re safe again. Some of these are easy purchases, and some are habits. And some of them are sheer dumb luck (like finding a man I loved on Tinder whose German Shepherd insisted on keeping me). Keep swimming. It gets better. I promise.