Rape & Sexual Assault

Surviving a rape or sexual assault affects you in many different ways. It’s common to notice some reactions right after the assault, and for some to occur later. Sometimes, you can be equally affected by the events afterwards, especially how others treated you if you had the courage to share about your experience. 

Common Emotional Reactions to Sexual Assault

  • Embarrassment/Shame
  • Disbelief/Shock
  • Fear/Anxiety
  • Anger/Rage/Powerlessness
  • Sadness/Grief/Depression
  • Numbness

Common Physical Reactions to Sexual Assault

  • Being extremely alert (hyper-aware) to your surrounding and extremely reactive to perceived threats (hyper-vigilant)
  • Numbness/Dissociation (Feeling outside or disconnected from your body)
  • Agitation/Being quick to anger
  • Digestive issues
  • Nightmares/Flashbacks
  • Weeping, shaking, or having strong urge to flee or fight

Common Psychological Reactions to Sexual Assault

  • Feeling unsafe or worried that you will never be able to trust people again
  • Isolating yourself from normal activities and connections
  • Difficulty concentrating on job, responsibilities. Having problems remembering how to carry out usual tasks or staying present.
  • Stronger sense of boundaries between yourself and others and bigger reactions when boundaries are violated.
  • Blaming yourself
  • Seeking closeness or emotional  connection either with the perpetrator or with others
  • Blaming yourself

Friends and Family Member Reactions

The survivor is not the only one who is extremely affected by sexual assault. Loved ones may have their own reactions. Even the most well-meaning friends and families may not know what to do to help. This is challenging, because we’re used to leaning on our loved ones for support. 

Many people come to counseling because they have already done what they can to heal on their own, yet they can feel how the rape or sexual assault is still affecting them and their important relationships. Many of my clients tell me if they had only known how helpful counseling would be, they would have started sooner.

Important Therapeutic Tasks for Sexual Assault  

    • Feeling and releasing emotions and sensations related to the assault
    • Learning why you are having the reactions you are experiencing and how to cope
    • Regaining a sense of physical safety in your body and releasing stored energy related to assault
    • Healing shame and guilt associated with the assault
    • Reconnecting with yourself and others
    • Restoring trust and hope
These are big tasks, but with the right support, you can heal deeply!

 

Counseling can help survivors of sexual assault on the path of healing.

If you’re ready to take the next step in healiing, contact me to schedule your free 20 minute phone consultation. I look forward to connecting with you and will return your message within 48 hours.

 

 

 

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