Healing both mentally and physically after a sexual assault can be a difficult path to navigate. You don’t have to do this alone; there are support groups and friends and family that can help. And don’t force yourself into a set timeframe for completion.
You may begin to feel depressed in the days following the assault. These feelings may bring feelings of confusion as well. This can be especially prevalent if you have people around you tell you to “Just get over it.” These people may have good intentions and they want to help by trying to lessen the impact of the assault. Remember, though, that they may be dealing with feelings of guilt, especially if they feel they were unable to protect you. Feeling depressed is common after one’s life has been threatened. Don’t ignore these feelings and work with professionals to help you through it.
Victims may start to fear anyone who even resembles the rapist. If the assault was a date rape, familiar men may no longer be trustworthy. Men in general may become suspect and not trusted. This can include anyone: relatives, close friends, husbands and others. Victims may feel they can no longer trust their judgment to identify safe or dangerous men.
You may experience a strong emotional reaction to certain events. This may be the anniversary of the rape. Or passing by the site of the assault can cause this reaction.
You could either start to cling to your relationships with friends and family, or completely withdraw. You may find yourself experience feelings of wanting to completely change your appearance so that you deflect any possible interest in you sexually. You may also start to experience other physical effects of the trauma including pain, sleeplessness, muscles tension and more.
These feelings may come and go, but should be addressed especially if there are thoughts of self-harm or suicide.