Common Reactions to Sexual Assault





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After a sexual assault, you may want to talk to somebody but don’t know whom to trust. Who will really listen? Who won’t blame or judge? Getting back to normal can take a long time and you may be wondering if there is any one who can help. Many survivors have found it helpful to talk to rape crisis counselors. They are trained to listen and they understand the many feelings that are part of the Rape Trauma Syndrome. They will try to help you think through your decisions and deal with your feelings in the way that is best for you. They are ready to help you whenever you need them, now or in the future. Below are some of the common reactions to sexual assault.



EMOTIONAL SHOCK: I feel numb. Why am I so calm? Why can’t I cry?

DISBELIEF: Did it really happen? Why me?

EMBARRASSMENT: What will people think? No I can’t tell my family.

SHAME: I feel so dirty, like there is something wrong with me now. I want to wash my hands all day long.

GUILT: I feel as if I did something to make this happen to me. If only I had……

DEPRESSION: How am I going to go on? I feel so tired and hopeless.

POWERLESSNESS: Will I ever feel in control again?

DISORIENTATION: I can’t sit still. I’m having trouble getting through the day. I’m just overwhelmed!

RETRIGGERING: I keep having flashbacks. I wish they would stop.

DENIAL: Wasn’t it “just” a rape?

FEAR: I’m afraid of so many things. Will I get pregnant or get VD? Am I safe? Can people tell what’s happened to me? Will I ever want to be intimate again? Will I ever get over this? I’m afraid I’m going crazy. I have nightmares that terrify me.

ANXIETY: I’m a nervous wreck! I have trouble breathing (Anxiety is often expressed in physical symptoms like difficulty in breathing, muscle tension, sleep trouble,change in appetite, nausea, stomachaches, nightmares).

ANGER: I want to KILL him

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