If you were asked in the months prior to your assault exactly how you would react if you were attacked, you may have replied with "I would fight back, scream and run away". In fact the reality of rape can be so traumatic that the body’s natural freeze response is often triggered which leaves you powerless to do anything.
This can often leave you feeling upset or angry with yourself for not being able to fight or run away. This is a normal response to an event that is outside of your everyday experiences and you should not feel responsible for anything that you did or did not do during the attack.
Everyone will respond in their own unique way following an attack. It is normal to experience many different feelings and reactions afterwards, however, there is no right or wrong way to react to sexual violence. You may wonder if you should or should not be feeling a certain way, or how long you should feel it for, or whether you should be 'over it by now'.
Whatever you do feel is valid and right in respect of how you're feeling. Each person responds in their own way. If you can talk about your feelings with others it can help you to understand your responses and can start to help you to regain some control over your own life.
Rape Trauma Syndrome is a recognised crisis response to rape or sexual assault and is a term sometimes used to help explain the impact of sexual violence.
Immediately after being assaulted you may feel fear, shock, disbelief, denial and a determination to carry on as if nothing has happened.
In the longer term you may experience shock or numbness, shame/humiliation and self-blame, indecision, powerlessness and vulnerability. You may feel tearful, angry, fearful, anxiety, hysterical, physically dirty, and feel detached from your emotions and the world around you. You may experience insomnia or need excessive sleep, have nightmares or flashbacks. You may be unable to eat, you may vomit or feel sick, or binge eat or drink.
You may be asking yourself "why me?" It's important that you allow yourself to react to the assault – your reactions are a normal part of your healing.