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Wanting to cover body

Discussion in 'Sexual Assault' started by glass frog, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. glass frog

    glass frog New Member

    I was wondering if anyone else sometimes feels the need/compulsion to cover up their body more than usual on days where memories/general PTSD symptoms are worse. For example, feeling like you need to put on long pants, a sweatshirt, hat, long socks, etc. (even if you are alone/at home). I'm not sure if this is a natural reaction to sexual abuse that I can go along with, or if it is fueling shame and a feeling of dirty-ness and I should be trying to stop that urge. Thank you!
    Joan, berlinda and joeylittle like this.
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  3. Chris-duck

    Chris-duck Active Member

    I get that a lot. I even have specific covering up outfits that make me feel "safer" when I'm having a shit day (although none that I'd go out in hah). No advice though if this is something you wanna get past.
    Joan likes this.
  4. MeToo2016

    MeToo2016 New Member

    I’m definitely like this too. I like to wear leggings that I feel covered in as well as a comfy shirt. I almost always carry a jacket with me (even on good days) as I feel better having that optional extra layer of protection. On days when I feel good tho, I’ve been tying to dress in clothes I’d normally feel uncomfortable in (I have a hard time wearing shorts because of the scars from my assault), because it’s actually helped boost my self confidence and sense of security some. I think just being able to go out in clothes that show more skin and seeing that nothing bad happened makes me feel safer. Kinda sounds silly, but it’s what works for me. I always make sure that if I do that tho, it’s in a “controlled” environment. Like I won’t wear clothes that I don’t feel covered in in places where I’m already feeling triggered (like large crowds or grocery stores). I think is pretty normal to want to cover up after an assault. I’m all for doing what makes you feel comfortable.
  5. PerfectEmpire

    PerfectEmpire Well-Known Member

    This is interesting. Everyone's story is different, and everyone's needs are different.

    Is it shame, fear, or both?

    Here is my experience:

    I naturally started dressing in a way that makes me feel 'safe' all of the time - long sleeves, long pants or medium to long skirt, decently high necklines.

    I also carry an optional layer of protection with me all of the time, usually a wrap or shawl. When something triggers me, even mild, I wrap myself up. My wraps are beautiful and get a lot of compliments! The colors and beautiful fabrics cheer me up.

    I actually like to browse the sites for religious people who dress 'modestly' or 'frum' because they have good outfit ideas that are stylish but also make me feel well covered! What this taught me is that with fabrics and colors and fit I can achieve a sort of dignified beauty and even sex appeal without feeling overexposed. I enjoy this creative process.

    In therapy or support group, I find myself needing to cover up with a blanket or wrap when I talk about my sexual violence history. As soon as I start to tell any portion of my story, I notice that I immediately wrap myself up. It's instinctive, natural. When I'm feeling extraordinarily triggered, I notice that I keep my handbag or a pillow over my lap and hug it to keep it there. It's like a shield.

    I've had therapists who actually encourage this [covering up] as a healthy coping skill. One even mentioned other women who select their clothes in such as way as to feel "protected" in general. That was validating and made me feel less weird. It helped me to perceive this habit as a good thing, and something that is a sign of health. It makes sense to want to do that if you've been violated.

    But you pose an interesting question: "is [this] a natural reaction to sexual abuse that I can go along with, or [...] is [it] fueling shame and a feeling of dirty-ness and I should be trying to stop[?]"

    Only you can answer that. What do you feel just prior to when you cover up? And what do you feel after?

    Before covering up (such as when triggered): I feel dread, anger, fear, disgust, need to flee, terror, suspense, grief, angst, anxiety, remorse, and more.

    Clearly I'm trying to protect myself from something. And so it's not a shame thing.

    After covering up: I feel relief, joy, comfort, warmth, strength, courage. I can cope.

    Being covered doesn't hinder my life, and so I don't really see why I wouldn't comfort myself in that way. How wonderful that something as simple as a blanket or different clothes can help.

    I *did* have to work for many YEARS on being able to wear a bathing suit to the beach or pool, even when I was in the water. It's dangerous to swim with long sleeves and long skirt (wow, I really was that traumatized...huh...I forgot all about that until this post. I've come a long way!). Now I can swim, but I cover up as soon as I'm out of the water, mainly so that I don't get sunburned! I feel safe at the beach as everyone is exposed, so it's okay. But I always have a stylish cover-up that makes me feel safe and happy.
    Joan likes this.
  6. berlinda

    berlinda On the way to find out :-) Premium Member Sponsor $100+

    I used to be completely incapable of going out without being coversed pretty much head to toe. Wouldn't take my coat off at the height of summer don't care how hot it gets.

    Just in the last 5 10 years I can wear shorts and short sleeves. Summer's a good deal more bearable!

    I guess @glass frog has it gotten so it's effecting your life a lot - the needing to cover up?

    I would think it fine to let your self cover uo more on the bad days like anniversaries or if you're feeling particularly vulnerable.
    Joan likes this.
  7. Joan

    Joan Well-Known Member Donated

    Absolutely...I used to always wear a hat, I definitely have certain things I wear when more triggered, feeling shameful, do not want to be seen...even my T has noticed.
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