Is it possible to ever "get over" being sexually assaulted?
You have been sexually assaulted. You have experienced many confusing feelings ever since it happened. You may wish your life could be the way it was before. You may worry that you are "going crazy". It is important for you to know that many different, confusing and painful feelings are a natural aftermath of having been sexually assaulted. The following are examples of feelings a victim of sexual assault have experienced.
"I went over it detail by detail. Was there something I could have done?Could I have fought or stopped it somehow? I thought I was going to die.I didn't want to die."
Often fear of physical injury and death is foremost in the thoughts of a victim of sexual assault. When the attack is over, the after effects have just begun and most women in these situations are surprised at the powerful effect this event has on their life.
"I thought about it all the time. In the middle of work, dinner, talking,I would blank out and remember. I tried to push it out. I worked extrahours, filled every minute, but always came back. I was afraid I'd go Crazy."
It is a natural reaction for survivors of a sexual assault to want to forget it and go on with their lives as before. They are often surprised to find that no matter how hard they try this is not possible. They are confused and frightened by the emotional impact the assault has on their lives. The fear does not go away after the assault but lingers and takes many forms.
"I hated being afraid all the time. I didn't feel safe anywhere. I wasalways bracing for an attack. Feeling like a target.""Perhaps I' m not ready to live on my own (take that job, go out alone, etc.)"
In addition to the fear, the victim of sexual assault often experiences guilt and shame, which she finds hard to explain to others.
"I was sure people knew or would find out. I was different. Theycould look at me and somehow see it on my face. I tried to hideall my feelings all the time so they wouldn't find out. I was ashamed."
She may feel guilty that she didn't fight or struggle more and that she was somehow responsible for what happened. She thinks she shouldn't have been where she was, wearing what she was, doing what she was doing. She may feel humiliated and degraded and wonder why this happened to her.