After a person has been sexually assaulted, it's normal to experience a range of feelings and reactions.  There is no right way or wrong way to feel or react.  Everyone copes in his or her own way.  Some people have very strong reactions after being sexually assaulted, others are calm.  Some feelings and reactions might be experienced directly after the assault while other feelings and reactions can occur days or sometimes weeks later.  These feelings and reactions have the ability to interfere with how you cope.

Understanding that these feelings are normal and experienced by others who have been sexually assaulted may make the feelings and reactions less frightening.  Some of the normal feelings and reactions that you may experience any time following a sexual assault are:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Guilt – You may feel that what happened to you is your fault.
  • Loneliness – Not interested in spending time with friends or family.
  • Confusion
  • Betrayal
  • Grief
  • Helplessness
  • Changes in your appetite
  • Changes in your sleeping patterns
  • Nightmares
  • Changes in your sex drive
  • Not being able to concentrate
  • Unable to stop thinking about the sexual assault
  • A belief that no one understands what you are going through
  • A lack of self confidence

Caring for Yourself After a Sexual Assault

  • Eat healthy food and get exercise to help keep up your strength.

  • Try to keep doing the things that you have always enjoyed.

  • Don’t look for easy answers to explain what happened.

  • Know your rights and know how to get the help you need.

  • Say positive things to yourself to restore your sense of well-being, like "I am strong!"  "I did not deserve this."  "I am taking back my personal power."  "I am healing each and every day."

  • Be patient with yourself. It takes time to recover from a sexual assault.

  • Believe in yourself and know that you will get through this.
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