Firecracker Blog

Being Present: Self-care for Survivors

By January 21, 2015April 21st, 2017No Comments

If you are a survivor, you know the feeling. You are just sitting there and notice your switch is turned on—and not in a good way. Being activated (or triggered) means something pushed a button and you’re taken back to your trauma, or you might feel kind of numb, maybe your brain won’t stop going.

Being activated is common for survivors. I think of being activated as a source of information about our bodies, a pain at times, but part of being human.

After my friend was sexually assaulted, I was reminded of my own trauma, and had a lot of feelings. My therapist taught me about self-care and I made a mini-‘zine for my friend about the topic, which you can download for free here: Violet Defiant’s self-care zine issue #1

Feel free to print and share!

Firecracker is the kind of person who has one million ideas, and knows how to follow through. This is how the self-care drive for The Firecracker Foundation came up. We’re asking the community to bring self-care items to the box at NEO Center between January – March.

Self-care is important to help survivors of trauma feel like we know how to be in our bodies. As a form of community care, we will collect useful items and tidbits about self-care for the next few months. The items you donate will make a direct impact on a group of individuals who have survived sexual trauma in childhood.

I agreed to take organizing the project on, so please contact me at if you have any questions.

Until then, here are some tips I’ve been gifted along the way on being present. When learning to be present, you might try some simple grounding techniques:

Taking a full, deep breath.

Planting your feet square on the ground.

Reminding yourself of who you are, where you come from, where you’re going.

Getting out, even if to a public place where you can be alone around others.

Meeting up with a friend.

Having the privilege of a good therapist to validate your feelings of grief, or rage, shame, or unbelonging…

Putting your hand on your heart is known to have a calming neurological benefit.

Writing it out. Stretching it out. Keeping a schedule.

Laughing, in a hard, genuine way, until you make the face you do when you laugh, face all scrunched up.

Telling yourself you are here. You are real. You are fierce and irreducible.*

*Firecracker’s personal favorite.


Kathleen Livingston is the co-chair of the Advocacy Committee and a community organizer at the Firecracker Foundation. She is writing a collection of nonfiction essays on consent. One is on consent as self-care and community care.