Coping with a face covering as a survivor of sexual violence

Coping with a face covering as a survivor of sexual violence

Government guidance changes on the 24th July, making it mandatory to wear a mask or face covering in shops and supermarkets. We know that for some survivors this poses a real concern, with reports that the wearing of masks/face coverings have triggered flashbacks and panic symptoms.

We recognise that wearing a face covering may cause trauma for some survivors and want to remind anyone who is struggling that we are here to support and listen to you. You can find details of all our support services


We have also compiled a list of ways in which some survivors have found it possible to wear face coverings. If you have any other suggestions please contact us so we can add them.

Things which may help:
– trialing different fabrics and materials, for example some people may find cottons, silks, or T-shirt style materials more bearable
– wearing a face covering which isn’t a mask, for example a scarf, snood, or bandana
– practicing wearing a face covering at home before going outside and slowly increasing the time you have it on for so you get used to how it feels
– putting calming scents on the face covering such as lavender or mint
– using other grounding techniques such as tapping pulse points, opening and closing a peg, or focusing on things you can see, smell, and touch.

We recognise that face coverings may remind people of past events, so you may also find it helpful to remind yourself that you are in control, and you can step outside of a building and remove face covering at any point.

Remember, government guidance also states that you can be exempt from wearing a face covering “if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress”. This should only be a last resort, but you may find it useful if you decide that you are not able to wear a mask or face covering and are questioned as a result.

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