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This is a very overwhelming and stressful time for you, in which you will probably experience a wide range of emotions that might be difficult to understand. While you are going to receive a lot of information throughout this whole process and it might be difficult to interpret, we appreciate your willingness to come forward with your experience, and we want to support you with some information that could be beneficial for your healing process. There are a wide range of resources available if you desire additional support, there are individuals that can assist you in finding it. Should desire more information, please contact us and we will be happy to help you.
RANGE OF EMOTIONAL REACTIONS OF INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED:
1. LOSS OF CONTROL, HELPLESSNESS
The rape survivor frequently finds that she fears people and that she feels vulnerable as she goes about the regular activities of her life. This process can be particularly difficult if the attacker was someone she trusted. She may no longer feel sure of anything about herself and her self-determination. Another aspect of this reaction is that the survivor may have been living a life of trusting people, and now may feel that, in addition to her body, the rapist has stolen her whole life away.
The survivor may fear that the attacker will sexually assault her again. She may also fear those who remind her of the attacker or remain afraid that she will be assaulted by someone new. She can explore ways of coping with her fear of the attack, and she can come up with a step-by-step plan of what to do if she feels endangered by her attacker in any way.
Survivors often experience anger about their situation. Some are able to express the anger, focusing it in the proper direction. Others, however, may internalize the anger, getting angry at herself instead of the offender.
4. GUILT, SHAME, EMBARRASSMENT
Survivors of sexual assault can feel like they asked for or provoked the assault. Depending on the situation, the guilt might stem from thinking she did not resist enough, that her clothing was provocative, that she shouldn’t have been drunk, or that she shouldn’t have trusted him. No one has the right to sexually assault another person, regardless of the situation. Feelings of shame and embarrassment are often mixed with feelings of guilt. Survivors might feel like they are bad or dirty because of what happened to them.
Although these emotions are okay to experience, please remember that rape is NOT your fault. It is unfortunate that there are so many underlying societal myths regarding rape and sexual assault, but nothing you did makes sexual assault your fault.
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Student Affairs Staff