If you are a sexual assault survivor, you are not a rape victim. Don’t encourage negative experiences to lead the future of your life.
After the experience of sexual trauma, most people experience derealization and immediate shock. To deal with the aftermath, one should do some specific things.
This article will cover some of those steps to help you become safe and happy again.
So keep reading to learn more.
Your Safety Is the Priority
After the experience of sexual trauma, the first and most important thing to do is to prioritize your well-being and safety. Most people will experience derealization, shock, and overwhelm. After the assault, the limbic system, part of the brain responsible for triggering fight or flight and processing emotions in response to threats—is firing full-automatic.
To reach a sense of normalcy and safety, it is recommended to use a coping mechanism that has helped in the past when dealing with life stressors. For instance, calling your best friend, speaking to a trusted family member, or even covering yourself with a bunch of blankets—whatever helped you feel safe before will probably do so now.
Leave the environment that is common to your attacker. Go home, in your car, or to a hospital. Consider calling a friend to come with you. What just occurred is definitely not your fault; you don’t have to go through this without support.
If you need more information on what to do if you have been raped, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. It’s free and works on the clock 24/7.
As much as you want to, do not brush your teeth, change clothes, or bathe before medical specialists have time to collect evidence.
Do Not Dismiss the Experience
It might be desirable to avoid processing or addressing the experience altogether. But healing never happens with avoidance. You cannot go under it, over it, or around it. You must go through it.
Simple coping habits like meditating, walking, and journaling can help effectively process the trauma. Not every survivor needs therapy, as some will only show symptoms of acute stress disorder, whereas other post-traumatic stress disorder.
Even though a survivor knows they have been assaulted, anxiety might make them wonder if it was their fault, if it was consensual. The sense of guilt can implicate the harmful effects of the trauma. Thus, therapy can provide a quality forum for understanding, coping, and mediating emotions.
Seeing a clinician experienced with sexual trauma may be a good idea. Memory is ever-changing and dynamic, so the associations change each time you remember an event. It never stays the same. Therapy can provide you with a safe space to modify your trauma and, over time, decrease and abolish the adverse effects associated with this experience.
Seek Medical Attention
When safe, make sure to get medical attention, no matter if you feel hurt or not. Call 911 or the police. Medical help will ensure that you are physically well and can assess your body for the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and much more.
Even if you do not intend to report the rape, you should seek medical help for your good. At the hospital, tell them that you have been raped so that they can configure a rape kit. This will make sure to preserve any forensic evidence. So if you need to access it for legal reasons later, you can do so.
Also, if you feel you’ve been drugged, provide a urine sample for lab analysis.
Reporting the Rape
Once your safety has been placed in effect, and you have received medical attention, write down all of the details from the rape. As much information as possible is critical to the success of your case.
Write down everything that happened and everything you remember about the attack. This might seem like the last thing you want to do, but this evidence is crucial to the prosecution, and bringing the attacker to justice might be the best rape recovery effort.
When calling a rape crisis center, they will be able to provide legal help regarding the reporting process. It’s never too late to report a rape, but in some cases, the experience can be barred after several years, depending on the state’s law.
Ideally, the report should be made immediately after receiving medical attention. But days and even months later, you can still report and prosecute.
- Attempted rape is a crime and should be reported
- If you know the attacker, it’s still rape
- You do not have to be physically injured for rape to be rape
- Police take rape seriously and want to help you genuinely
- It is not your fault. You did nothing wrong.
Also, several states have compensation programs for victims, which provide them with money for therapy. Nonetheless, these states will require that you report the crime to the police to qualify for the funds.
Protect yourself with legal assistance.
Back to Life
Now that you know that you are not a rape victim but a survivor of sexual assault, you can work towards recovering and getting legal help to prosecute the attacker.
Whatever you choose, it will be the right thing to do. If you’re interested in learning more about similar topics, go through our categorical filter pages at the top of the website.