Thank you to The Survivors Trust for providing this information.
Whilst some survivors have found comfort in wearing a mask (safeguarded physically) others have said that they find covering their own face or seeing the faces of others covered has been a triggering experience for them.
Within the Government’s Guidelines for face coverings on public transport, it states that those who “cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering without severe distress” will be exempt. Although technically this exemption includes survivors of sexual abuse who are triggered by covering their face, asking a survivor to explain this to staff and security guards is a terrifying and humiliating prospect.
Many survivors already carry a great deal of shame about what happened to them, making disclosing this to strangers an impossibility. There is also the worry as to how staff or other shoppers may react to them. We live in a society where members of the general public’s perception of survivors are still heavily clouded by rape myths and victim blaming. Survivors may not always receive an empathetic and compassionate response.
Although we strongly urge survivors to try to wear masks in order to protect themselves and the vulnerable members of our society, the guidelines state that those who “cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering without severe distress” are exempt. BUT THANKS TO RECENT INFORMATION FROM THE SURVIVORS TRUST there is an alternative (read below).
If wearing a mask will be severely distressing for you, then we encourage you to access the following website https://hiddendisabilitiesstore.com/hidden-disabilities-face-covering.html as they have a card you can purchase for a very small fee. If challenged by staff in a shop, show the card. Hidden disabilities is a genuine reason and other than for saying you have PTSD symptoms, no more needs to be disclosed. Do NOT feel compelled to say any more.