Moving forward after a sexual assault

The effects of sexual assault on victims and their loved ones can be felt psychologically, emotionally and physically. They can be very brief or long-term in duration; they may even last a lifetime. It is important to remember that there is no one “normal” reaction to sexual assault. Every individual’s response will be different depending on the situation. Healing from rape or sexual assault takes time.

Here are some things to consider for taking care of yourself as you recover from a rape or sexual assault:

  • Physical Self-Care – We all function better when our bodies are healthy. Therefore, taking care of your physical needs is important in the aftermath of a stressful situation like sexual assault. We tend to underestimate the value of things like eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Stay busy – Many survivors have full time jobs, go to school, volunteer and have families. It is helpful to try to get back to your regular routines as soon as possible. Finding time to do activities that you enjoy is also an important aspect of self-care.
  • Emotional Self-Care – Understanding the importance of your emotional well-being is the start of living a healthy lifestyle. You must be willing to feel and express emotions about what you’ve gone through in the past and what you will go through in the future. Whether it is with one other person, a group of people, or on your own, knowing, accepting, and saying how you feel are steps in the right direction.
  • Counseling – A Safe Place provides free and confidential supportive counseling and trauma therapy for you and your loved ones to help process what happened. We can also make referrals for other support services.
  • Journal or Diary – Some survivors find that recording their thoughts and feelings in a journal or diary helps them manage their emotions after an assault. Meditation or relaxation exercises help many survivors as well.
  • Surround yourself with positive people – It’s important to make sure that the people in your life are supportive. Nurture relationships with people that make you feel good about yourself!
  • Look out for yourself – Be wary of friends or family who leave you feeling tired or depressed when you see them, never have time to listen to you, or dismiss or belittle your experience as a survivor. Focus on spending time with those you care about and who care about what is best for you.
  • It is never too late to call for help – Even if the attack happened years ago, it’s never too late to get help. Many survivors do not realize they need help until months or years later. Call us to speak with someone about your attack.
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