What Might You Expect to Experience after a Rape or Sexual Assault?

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted you are likely to experience an initial crisis period which may include some or many of the following reactions: emotional shock, denial, numbness, nightmares, sleeplessness, flashbacks, changes in appetite, difficulty working and concentrating, and feelings of guilt, despair, depression, self-blame, or anger. This is followed by a long period of recovery, during which you may seem to recover completely but then sometimes re-experience the traumatizing effects of the assault.

What Are Effective Ways of Approaching Rape Recovery?

You may feel that you want to put the rape behind you and get on with your life. You will probably find, however, that working through and talking about your Feelings will be most effective in the long run. There are many ways of working through the trauma of a sexual assault: some women see counselors regularly or attend support groups, other rely on family and friends, still others take self-defense classes like "Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.)" to help reduce their feelings of helplessness and vulnerability. Sometimes students find that bringing criminal charges and/or college disciplinary actions against their assailants helps to restore their sense of personal integrity and power.

Most important is that you not isolate yourself and that you make a positive choice to spend time with people who believe and support you. You may find that parents, friends, and partners have complicated feelings about what has happened to you. If someone reacts in a way that hurts you, get away from that person. Spend time with people who can assist you without trying to control you, who believe in you, and who can help you sort out what you need to do to take care of yourself.