Resources for Survivors

24/7 Hotline: 201-487-2227 | Chat

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE JUST BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED

  • Get to a safe place.
  • Contact someone who can help you and call the healingSPACE hotline at 201-487-2227.
  • Do not shower, drink or eat, douche, or change your clothes. These activities destroy important evidence in the event that you decide to prosecute the assailant.
  • Get medical attention. You may have hidden injuries and may want to explore options for preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
  • Write down everything that you remember happening, with as much detail as possible. This can help with your own healing process and in any legal action you might decide to take.

REMEMBER - YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME, EVEN IF:

  • Your attacker was an acquaintance, date, friend, or spouse.
  • You have been sexually intimate with that person or with others before.
  • You were drinking or using drugs.
  • You did not or could not say “no,” or were unable to fight back physically.
  • You were wearing clothes that others may consider to be seductive.

COMMON REACTIONS TO SEXUAL ASSAULT

The following list summarizes the range of reactions to sexual assault that may help you know what’s normal to expect. Remember – sexual assault is a crisis, and people handle crises in different ways and have different reactions.

  • Emotional Shock: I feel so numb. Why am I so calm? Why can’t I cry?
  • Disbelief: Did it really happen? Why me? Maybe I just made it up.
  • Embarrassment: What will people think? I can’t tell my family or friends.
  • Shame: I feel so dirty, like there is something wrong with me. I want to wash my hands or shower all the time.
  • Guilt: I feel as if it’s my fault, or I did something to make this happen.
  • Depression: How am I going to get through this? I’m so tired. I feel so helpless. Maybe I’d be better off dead.
  • Powerlessness: Will I ever feel in control again?
  • Disorientation: I don’t even know what day it is, or what class I’m supposed to be in. I can’t remember my appointments. I keep forgetting things.
  • Triggers: I keep having flashbacks. I’m still re-living it. I see his face all the time.
  • Denial: It wasn’t really a “rape.”
  • Fear: I’m scared of everything. What if I’m pregnant? Could I get an STD, or even AIDS? How can I ever feel safe again? Do people realize there’s anything wrong? I can’t sleep because I know I’ll have nightmares. I’m afraid I’m going crazy. I’m afraid to go outside. I’m afraid to be alone.
  • Anxiety: I’m having panic attacks. I can’t breathe! I just can’t stop shaking. I can’t sit still in work/class anymore. I feel overwhelmed.
  • Anger: I want to kill the person who attacked me!
  • Physical Stress: My stomach (or head or back) aches all the time. I feel jittery and don’t feel like eating.

HEALING/RECOVERING FROM SEXUAL ASSAULT

Talking about the assault with someone who can listen in understanding and affirming ways –whether it’s a friend, family member, or a Confidential Sexual Violence Advocate is a key part of the healing process. However, talking about the assault may be hard to do. In fact, it is common to want to avoid conversations and situations that may remind you of the assault. You may have a sense of wanting to “get on with life” and “let the past be the past.” This is a normal part of the recovery process and may last for weeks or months. Eventually you will need to deal with fears and feelings in order to heal and regain a sense of control over your life. Calling our 24/7 hotline 201-487-2227 is a step toward healing.

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