Many people who have experienced some form of unwanted sexual activity may have difficulty identifying themselves as victims of sexual assault. However, sexual assault is a term that describes a wide range of unwanted or nonconsensual sexual activities that occur most frequently between two people who know each other such as acquaintances, significant others, and family members (a parent and a child). Non-stranger sexual assaults are some of the most underreported crimes in the United States and something which many people find very difficult to discuss.
Sexual assault is considered to be a form of trauma in which power and control have been taken away from a survivor. The most common feelings following an assault include shock, confusion, fear, anger, helplessness, self-blame, guilt, embarrassment, shame, numbness, and disbelief. Whatever your reaction, please know that it is not uncommon to experience one or a mixture of these uncomfortable emotions. It is important to remember that there is no one "right way" to seek resolution and healing following an assault. With time, support, self-understanding, and self-compassion, the difficult or painful emotions you may be feeling will subside.
Sexual assault can cause a great deal of confusion in our lives. Allow yourself the time and assistance you may need to heal. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Honor yourself by acknowledging the reality of what happened. Allow yourself to experience whatever feelings that may come, and use as many resources (family, friends, counselors, rape crisis programs) as you need. You do not have to recover from this without support and assistance.
If you have been sexually assaulted, we hope that this information will help you know that you are not alone, provide you with information to help you make informed choices, and support your recovery.
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