Healing after a sexual assault can be a complex process. You have your own way of coping, but it’s also important to know that some feelings and thoughts after an assault are to be expected and many survivors share them. Feelings and thoughts about a sexual assault can bother you even if it happened a long time ago.
You can call our 24-hour hotline now (951-686- RAPE or 1-866-686-RAPE) and speak to someone right now about any of these reactions and feelings. Our counseling services can help you with any feelings and reactions that you may be having.
You might be feeling…
- Distrust: It may take a while to feel as if you can trust people again. If you were assaulted by someone you know, you may question your judgment about people. If you were assaulted by a stranger, you may distrust the world.
“I didn’t think that I would ever go on a date again. What I realize now is that I can date, but I plan for my safety a lot more consciously than I did before.”
- Loss of Control: Sexual assault robs you of control over your body, so afterwards, survivors often feel powerless. An important part of healing is feeling that you have choices, and they will be respected.
“My parents did not know what to do to help me. After about a year of awkwardness, I asked if we could have a designated time each week to talk about the prosecution of my case. It felt great to know and say what I needed.”
- Fear: Sexual assault is frightening, and it is normal to feel scared. Some survivors are especially scared at night or in places like the one in which they were abused or assaulted.
“My goal at the beginning of the support group was to be able to sleep with my lights off. I did it. It wasn’t easy but I did it.”
You also might be feeling…
- Guilt or Self-Blame: No one deserves to be raped and it is never your fault – even if you were drinking, wearing sexy clothes, or if you agreed to some sexual activity like kissing.
“I wanted to come to school in the city. For a while I blamed my rape on that decision. When I talked to a friend who had been raped at her school in a tiny Midwestern town I finally stopped believing it was my fault.”
- Avoidance: You may want to avoid anything that reminds you of the assault. Don’t let avoidance prevent you from getting help.
“It wasn’t until my 3rd or 4th counseling session that I finally admitted to myself that talking about the problems I was having helped me.”
- Anger: You might feel angry — at the person who hurt you, the world, yourself, and even people you love. Anger can be an important part of healing.
“Anger is a difficult emotion for me. I was raised to think of other people’s feelings before mine. At some point I realized that all that pent up anger was making me a very sad person.”
- Mood Swings: Feelings from a sexual assault can be intense and overwhelming. Most survivors experience a lot of ups and downs in their healing process.
“One day I feel normal, like the ‘old me’. The next day I am annoyed and frustrated with everyone, especially myself.”
- Numbness: No feeling at all is a feeling that helps many survivors cope with the crisis of a rape.
“At first I would go numb all the time. In counseling, I learned to be aware of it and control it.”
- Flashbacks: Nightmares, flashbacks, or constantly thinking about what happened can disturb your concentration, your sleep, even your appetite.
“I wonder sometimes if I will ever be able to sleep through the night again, but I have been working on it. It is getting better, just slowly.”
You can call our 24-hour hotline (951-686-7273 or 866-686-7273) to speak to someone right now about any of these reactions. Our counseling services can help you with any feelings that you may be having.