Experiencing a sexual assault is traumatic and you may have a number of physical and emotional reactions to what has happened. There is no one or “correct” way to respond to victimization. Athough there are some commonalities, each victim/survivor will respond differently to the assault. Responses/reactions may include, but are not limited to:
• Feelings of anger, sadness, fear, anxiety and depression
• Feelings of self-blame, guilt, shame or embarrassment
• Feeling unclean, dirty, different or that there is something wrong
• Disorientation or difficulty concentrating on school work or other activities
• Difficulty trusting your own judgment and/ or trusting other people
• Trying to avoidthinking about what happened
• Experiencing nightmares or upsetting and intrusive thoughts
• Feeling that you are no longer safe
• Inability to sleep or relax
• Changes in appetite, nausea or stomachaches
• General pain or physical discomfort
A person may experience some or all of these reactions. The reactions can last for days, weeks, months and even years after the assault. Sometimes memories of the assault are blocked for days or even years, and then something will act as a trigger and bring the memory flooding back making it seem as if the assault just happened. All of these responses are normal and common.
Help is available at VPVA. All counseling services are free and confidential.