Common Reactions to an Assault
- Emotional shock: “I feel so numb.” “Why am I so calm?” “Why can’t I cry?” “Why don’t I feel anything?”
- Disbelief: “I can’t believe this happened to me.”
- Shame: “I feel so dirty.”
- Guilt: “Did I do something to make this happen?” “Could I have done something to stop it?” “If only I had…”
- Powerlessness: “Will I ever feel in control again?”
- Denial: “I wasn’t really raped.” “Nothing happened.”
- Anger: “I want to kill that person!”
- Fear: “What if I am pregnant or have an STI? These thoughts keep going through my head. I’m afraid to close my eyes.”
- Depression: “I’m so tired.” “I feel so helpless.” “Maybe I’d be better off dead.”
- Triggers: “I keep having flashbacks.”
- Anxiety: “I feel so confused.” “Am I going crazy?”
- Helplessness: Loss of self-reliance. “Will I ever be able to function on my own?”
Note: Not everyone will demonstrate all of these behaviors. Everyone reacts differently. However an individual reacts, is normal for him or her.
- Expressive: Crying, yelling, shaking, being angry, swearing, etc. Anger may be directed at self, friends, family, etc.
- Calm: May behave extremely composed, controlled, or unaffected.
- Withdrawn: May shrink inside themselves, provide one word answers or none at all, or offer no information without being prodded.
- Nightmares: Survivor may have difficulty sleeping or have nightmares of being chased or attacked.
- Flashbacks: These may occur while the survivor is fully awake. The memories will seem intensely real to the survivor because the assault seems to be happening all over again.
- Changing eating habits
- Lack of concentration or energy
- Rape Trauma Syndrome or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Abuse of alcohol
- Disordered Eating