Sexual assault is an act of power and dominance; not of sexual desire. It occurs anytime a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity. The continuum of sexual violence includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure and voyeurism. Feelings after an assault vary from survivor to survivor. The range of reactions, however, has a name: Rape Trauma Syndrome or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some common reactions found among survivors are:
- Feelings of helplessness, anger, fear and depression
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
- Remember: This is not your fault.
- Contact a hotline or sexual assault advocacy center such as The Advocates at 208-788-4191 or our 24 hour Hotline: 208-788-6070 or toll free 888-676-0066 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673.
- Meet with a counselor who has experience helping people who experience PTSD.
- Attend a support group. Frequently, it helps to talk with others who have similar experiences and hear how they have coped.
- See a trusted physician. If the assault occurred within 72 hours, evidence may still exist if you decide to prosecute. If more than 72 hours have elapsed, a physician can still help with concerns of STDs or pregnancy.
- Develop a support network of trusted friends, family and professionals.
- Use stress reduction techniques that work for you such as hard exercise (i.e. jogging, aerobics, cross country skiing) or relaxation practices (i.e. yoga, meditation, music).
- Believe the victim. Make it clear that you know it was not their fault.
- Give the victim control. Control was stripped during the assault. Empower the person to make decisions about what steps to take.
- Let them express their feelings. Be there to listen.
- Maintain confidentiality. Let the survivor make the decision who and what to tell.
- Encourage them to seek professional help.
- Seek help for yourself. Sexual assault not only affects the person who was assaulted but also those who are close to him or her. If someone you know has been assaulted you may experience some of the same feelings as the survivor. If you are struggling with the assault, please call The Advocates. We have resources to help all those affected by sexual assault.