- Sexual assault does happen, and it is a time that is frightening, confusing and generally full of emotions for the victim/survivor. Each individual has the right to accept or refuse sexual contact at his or her discretion; and no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.
- Both males and females have equal ability and responsibility to control their sexual behavior and actions. (The survivor is not responsible for the assailant’s actions.)
- Sexual assault is a violent crime and is often premeditated.
- Each survivor of sexual assault is a separate individual having distinct and separate needs and should be treated accordingly. There is no uniformly accepted “normal” reaction to sexual assault.
Remember, YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME, even if:
- Your attacker was an acquaintance, date, friend or spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, parent, sibling, guardian, other relative, professor, coach, or even employer.
- You have been sexually intimate with that person or with others before.
- You were drinking or using drugs.
- You froze and did not or could not say “no” or were unable to fight back physically.
- You were wearing clothes that others may see as seductive.
- You said “yes” but later said “no” and were not listened to.
Self-Care for Survivors
When learning to survive a traumatic experience, taking care of yourself is very important. Preventing undue stress and emotional over-load must be your priority. Here is a list of things that might be helpful for you:
- Get support from friends and family – try to identify people you trust to validate your feelings and affirm your strengths and avoid those who you think will deter your healing process.
- Talk about the assault and express feelings – choose when, where, and with whom to talk about the assault, and set limits by only disclosing information that feels safe for you to reveal.
- Use stress reduction techniques – strenuous exercise like jogging, aerobics, walking; relaxation techniques like yoga, massage, music, hot baths; prayer and/or meditation.
- Maintain a balanced diet and sleep cycle as much as possible and avoid overusing stimulants like caffeine, sugar, and nicotine.
- Discover your playful and creative “self”. Playing and creativity are important for healing from hurt. Find time for noncompetitive play – start or resume a creative activity like piano, painting, gardening, handicrafts, etc.
- Take “time outs.” Give yourself permission to take quiet moments to reflect, relax and rejuvenate – especially during times you feel stressed or unsafe.
- Try reading. Reading can be a relaxing, healing activity. Try to find short periods of uninterrupted leisure reading time.
- Consider writing or keeping a journal as a way of expressing thoughts and feelings.
- Release some of the hurt and anger in a healthy way: Write a letter to your attacker about how you feel about what happened to you. Be as specific as you can. You can choose to send the letter or not. You also can draw pictures about the anger you feel towards your attacker as a way of releasing the emotional pain.
- Hug those you love. Hugging releases the body’s natural pain-killers.
- Remember you are safe, even if you don’t feel it. The sexual assault is over. It may take longer than you think, but you will feel better.