Sexual assault and rape are violent crimes that often leave victims feeling alone and frightened. Crimes of sexual violence are even more painful because victims must discuss very intimate details of the crime. Knowing what may happen ahead of time can reduce your anxiety and help you get through the process more comfortably.
Recovering From a Violent Attack
Sexual assault is a life-threatening experience and may result in extreme and long lasting trauma to the victim. The physical and emotional results of this trauma generally come in three stages; however, the effects of the assault are different for each victim.
- The Acute Reaction usually occurs immediately; the most common signs of this stage are shock, disbelief, fear, anger, helplessness, mood swings, and eating or sleeping disturbances.
- The next stage is often the Outward Adjustment. This can be a temporary period where the victim reports that everything is back to normal and tries to regain control over personal feelings and life situations.
- The Integration stage most often begins with depression, followed by a renewal of Acute Reaction symptoms. The victim may become overwhelmed by the assault, make drastic life changes, and may also experience guilt.
Eventually, with the necessary emotional support, a survivor of sexual violence can work through the trauma and move past the experience and fear generated by the assault.
If you have experienced a rape or sexual assault, contact the Sexual Assault Center listed at the bottom of this page and ask for the emotional support and legal advocacy that you need to heal and recover from this crime.