How To Handle

Not only can sexual assault affect you physically, but it can also take a mental toll. Here is information on how to handle sexual assault, and ways you can heal.

Those who have experienced sexual assault may experience psychological affects such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression, anxiety, and other forms of trauma.

Emotions that are also commonly experienced include guilt, shame, fear, shock, and more.

Not only does sexual assault greatly impact the victim, but it can impact people on a greater scale by creating a society where there are feelings of fear and anger, as well as oppression.

Yet in the aftermath of sexual assault, all of these reactions are normal and are symptoms caused by the trauma, and they do not define who you are.

Steps to take in your recovery include…

  1. Reaching out and being open about your experience
    1. You can’t heal when avoiding the truth, so talking with a therapist or someone you trust can help you recover
    2. Joining a support group can be a great way to feel less isolated and alone, while allowing you to make connections and build a trusting community
  2. Cope with emotions like guilt and shame
    1. What you experienced is not your fault since the perpetrator is the one who is responsible, no matter what
  3. Prepare yourself in case you experience flashbacks or distressing memories
    1. “Flight-or-fight” mode is activated when the body undergoes trauma, but there are ways to prepare for triggers when in a sensitive state
      1. Anticipate and prepare for triggers (smells, surroundings, people, etc.)
      2. Be alert to signs your body gives you and work on connecting yourself to the here and now
  4. Don’t shut down your physical and emotional self
    1. Keep yourself from using other means or substances to escape and numb yourself
    2. Find healthy methods to stay grounded and healthy in recovering from sexual assault
    3. Make healthy lifestyle choices by allowing your body and mind to rest and grow
      1. Exercise, adopt healthier eating habits, find ways to unwind and relax, make friends and reach out to others, be patient for yourself

Another way to help yourself can include telling your story to help others, showing other victims how they can grow and overcome their experiences. 

If you have a friend or loved one who trusted you in telling you their experience, support them in their journey and do your best without unintentionally creating more stress or doing more harm.


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For more in-depth knowledge on the psychological impacts of sexual assault and ways to heal emotionally, click on the links above to explore these organizations’ websites.