Impact of Rape
Sexual Assault is a violent and personal invasion of space. This can be a humiliating and terrifying experience. It can leave victims fearing for their lives and safety. The emotional trauma that a victim can experience may be intense and long lasting. Every person who has been sexually assaulted recovers in their own time and in their own way. Some people may experience reactions to the assault immediately after, while for others it may take weeks/years to feel the impact of their assault. While every person who has experience sexual violence reacts differently, there are several common reactions that all rape victim share.
If you have been a victim of rape, you may be feeling:
Shock and Disbelief
You may be having thoughts such as:
“I can’t believe this happened to me!”
“I feel numb”
Most sexual assault victims react with feelings of pure shock and disbelief. It is not uncommon for you to feel numbness or to want to withdraw from people. Victims tend to avoid the situation altogether and avoid people or places that remind them of what happened.
Remembering What Happened
“I can’t stop thinking about what happened”
“The memory consumes me”
For victims of assault there may be times when your mind is preoccupied with only thoughts and feelings about the assault. When you think about the situation, you may experience some of the feelings that you had during the assault. You may feel afraid and powerless.
“I fee extremely angry about what has happened to me!”
“I feel like something has been taken from me, it makes me very sad.”
Victims of rape can have a variety of strong emotions after the assault. They may experience intense feelings: such as anger, sadness, guilt, embarrassment, depression and fear.
“I can’t eat; I feel nauseas all the time.”
“I have trouble sleeping, I have nightmares.”
Victims of sexual assault can experience many types of physical symptoms after an assault. Some victims will have problems with sleeping; they will experience intense headaches and stomachaches, cause a change in eating habits. If you are a victim of an assault you may find that it is difficult for you to concentrate and keep to your routine. There also may be changed in your feeling about sex; you may have a loss of interest in sex and a want to avoid sexual situations.
Fears About Your Safety
“I can’t go anywhere alone, I am afraid.”
“When I go home at night I search my room to make sure no one is there.”
It is most common for victims of sexual assault to now fear for their safety. It is the most universal response. You may be fearful of certain places and situations that did not bother you before the assault. You may be afraid to be alone and be paranoid that it will happen again. After an assault you may be vulnerable for a sometime.
Blame and Shame
“I feel like this is my fault, I shouldn’t have trusted him”
“I feel like people are going to look at me different”
To have feelings of guilt and shame are normal after a sexual assault. Victims often blame themselves as well as hold themselves responsible. They may also have feelings of guilt of self-blame because of the myths that people believe about rape that blame and criticize the victim.
Some victims of sexual assault may fell ashamed. They may feel dirty, self conscious and humiliated after an assault. Their symptoms are usually caused by the helplessness that victims often feel at the time of the assault.