Common Reactions

Sexual assault is trauma. Anybody who has experienced a traumatic event can have confusing feelings and reactions. Rape can continue to have a profound impact on a survivor initially following the assault and for years to come.

Common feelings following a sexual assault:

  • shock
  • numbness
  • disbelief or denial
  • distrust in self or in others
  • confusion or disorientation
  • intense fear, anxiety, nervousness, or panic
  • Intimacy/relationship issues
  • self-blame
  • guilt
  • shame and embarrassment
  • depression and suicidal feelings
  • anger
  • aggression
  • irritability

Other changes commonly experienced by survivors:

  • changes in appetite
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • nightmares, flashbacks, or jumpiness
  • Sense of powerlessness or loss of control

As painful as these feelings are, it is important to work through them in order to minimize the overall impact of the assault on your life and to reduce any potential long-term effects. Counseling or therapy can provide a safe place to process all of your feelings, and can help prevent any harmful impact on your relationships, trust, intimacy, and feelings of self-worth.