After a sexual assault, many victims experience derealization.
In this process, the limbic system will fire on all cylinders as part of the fight or flight response.
It is helpful to use whatever coping methods available to create a sense of normalcy and safety.
This could mean getting in bed under a layer of blankets or asking a best friend to come and stay with you.
Do you have a friend who will offer unconditional support?
This is someone who without judgment or prying into the details will support you.
Try to find that person and ask for help.
If you cannot imagine yourself talking to a friend about what happened, you may wish to do so anonymously by calling our hotline at (855) 598-4086.
Our volunteers are trained to offer support and listen to your story with care and concern.
Processing the sexual assault experience is challenging to many survivors.
Avoiding thinking about what happened is a natural response to trauma, but avoidance will not help you heal.
In some ways, we are conditioned to doubt our own experiences.
This can lead to some assault survivors to suspect that they were not actually victims.
They may wonder “was this really my fault?” or “was it actually consensual”?
These thoughts may cause additional trauma and lead to increased anxiety and depression.
A mental health professional can help you process your experience and explore healthy coping mechanisms.
Effective coping methods could include exercise, meditation, and journaling.
When looking for a therapist, be sure to find one with experience helping survivors of sexual trauma.
You may be afraid that thinking about your trauma will force you to remember painful memories.
But with help from a properly trained therapist, you can begin to process your trauma and set out on the road to recovery.
There is hope for survivors of sexual assault.
You can find stories of women who have found healing after sexual assault with the #weshatterthesilence hashtag on social media and our Share These Stories page.
Help for Fighting Back
Some sexual assault survivors want to prosecute their assailants immediately.
Others may be hesitant to report the assault due to fear, anxiety, or confusion as to how to go about doing so.
Over 70% of sexual assault survivors are assaulted by someone they know.
Many victims may distrust the police, and the thought of speaking to police may fill them with anxiety.
The thought of prosecuting a friend, acquaintance, or family member may be too much for them.
Survivors may feel shame, fear, or anxiety about having to share their testimony in court.
These survivors have other avenues of pursuing justice, and we seek to help them find the one that restores their sense of power and well-being.
This may come in the form of telling their story, seeking justice by their own volition, and/or filing a police report.
One of the significant barriers to survivors receiving help is that they do not have access or the ability to afford legal advice.
At Take Back the Night, we help sexual assault victims find free legal assistance.
Fill out our free legal assistance form, and one of our legal partners will contact you.
Our legal team does their best to get back to you within one to two business days.
Whether you need immediate help, emotional support, or legal help, we are here for you.
Contact us and let us help support you in your healing journey.