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Abusive Relationships

If You Have Been a Victim of Rape, You May be Feeling:

Shock and Disbelief

"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.

Strong Emotions
"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.

Physical Problems
"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, which can 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 a change in your feelings towards sex; you may have a loss of interest in sex and 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 feel 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.

Ways to Take Care of Yourself

Get support: Getting support from your family and friends is very important. After an assault, you are going through a difficult time and you may feel ashamed or unable to talk about the assault right away. Identifying with people you trust will help confirm your feelings and verify your strengths.

Talk about it: Talking about the assault is a good way to get your feelings out. You may choose when, where and with whom you talk to about the assault, but getting things out in the open will help in the healing process.

Find ways to reduce stress: Think of something that you enjoy doing. Whether it be some sort of hard exercise like running, exercise classes or walking. Or it could be relaxation methods such as yoga, reading a book or meditation. Take time out to do things you love, take time out for yourself in general.

Stay healthy: Be sure to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Often when experiencing something as traumatizing as rape, it can change your eating habits. Be sure to eat right and get on a regular sleep cycle, as much as possible. You may want to avoid stimulants, such as caffeine and nicotine.

Release anger: After an assault, a common feeling that victims have is anger. They are angry at themselves and the situation. First, remember that the assault is NOT at all your fault. Try and take the anger you may feel and find a way to release it in a healthy manner. Perhaps you could write a letter to your attacker expressing the pain and anger you feel. It is up to you if you'd like to send the letter or not. You should also consider taking self defense classes. It is a great way to help you release anger and as an added bonus, you will have learned how to protect yourself in the future.

Hug people you love: Hugging releases the body's natural pain killers.