How does sexual assault affect us

Sexual assault can be one of the most horrifying things that can happen to a human being. It’s important to remember that it’s never the survivors fault, and all the fault belongs with the perpetrator who wanted to do the sexual assault.

Unfortunately, millions of young girls and boys are sexually assaulted every year. There are also millions more of adults who were sexually assaulted too. It’s some thing that society is talking a little bit more about but still seems just as pervasive as ever.

As a PTSD therapist, I focus a lot of my work on helping survivors of sexual assault heal and recover. A lot of them ask me how does the sexual assault affect me? It’s sometimes hard for us to untangle how these assault affects us, especially if it happened has happened more than once or when we were children.

When our nervous systems are feeling unsafe and overwhelmed, it’s really hard to have clear awareness in insight of how the traumatic event is affecting us now. We sometimes can be hyper aware of how are feeling, but unable to make connections of how that is attached to our sexual assault or rape.

Below I’ve listed the top five ways that sexual assault can affects us:

1. We experience dissociation or numbness. Because sexual assault is a trauma on our body, one of the ways our bodies can cope is by trying to numb. This is a form of avoidance, because being in our body might not feel safe.

2. We experience a flood of emotions. During a traumatic event such as rape or sexual assault our bodies are not able to process what is happening to us at the time because our bodies are in full survival mode. This leaves pent-up emotion and sensation that can later flood us at inconvenient times. Emotions such as disgust, helplessness, sadness, anger, rage, grief are commonly associated with the flooding of our emotions attached to the assault.

3. We find ourselves wanting to isolate away from people. After experiencing sexual assault, our bodies might feel really shut down. Our nervous system, then uses most of its energy to repair our system. It doesn’t leave much energy for social interaction. There also might be a part of us that doesn’t trust other people for a while or doesn’t feel safe with them. This part of us might want to isolate.

4. We may have nightmares associated with the assault. Nightmares are often tools for nervous system to work out emotions that we aren’t able to work out during the day. This comes into play when we’ve had an assault and our nervous system is trying to release some of the emotions attached through nightmares or night terrors.

5. We might start utilizing unhelpful coping skills. As a way to avoid what we’re feeling, we might start self sabotaging in ways that don’t really feel good to us but help Nahum what happened. Some unhelpful coping skills that we may use includes: abusing substances, addictively watching TV/playing video games/scrolling on our cell phone, watching harmful kinds of porn, overeating, etc.

These, of course, are not all the ways that sexual assault can affect us, but these are some of the main themes in which are trauma can manifest.

If you have any more questions about rape, sexual assault, ptsd or trauma therapy please reach out via the Metta Holistic Therapy contact page or email me directly at – if you’re in crisis or an emergency please call 911.

Published by reneeminx

Somatic EMDR Holistic Female Therapist

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