Sexual Assault is indeed a traumatic experience. Trauma is even greater if the crime took place in a location where the victim usually stays like the school or home, or if it is done by a person whom the victim trusts. Repetition and length of the attack can also increase the severity of the trauma. A sexual assault done repeatedly can leave more harmful effects to the person than one single attack.
Dealing With The Crime First
Before you can deal with the trauma, you need to deal with the crime first. It's imperative that you report the crime to the authorities. This is not to get back at the sex offender but to keep that person from victimizing you again or others, to be certain about your health (examinations can be done to rule out medical conditions), and to provide psychological closure, something that is crucial for dealing with the trauma of sexual assault.
The crime should be reported as soon as possible. Any reason for delay such as confusion, guilt or fear may imply that you are making a false allegation or may make it more difficult to recall the facts about the crime that can help to catch the perpetrator.
But don't let any delay completely stop you from reporting the crime at all. When reporting the assault, see to it that you include as many details as possible.
Give information regarding:
- the location and time of the event
- the number and characteristics of the assailant(s)
- the circumstances surrounding the assault
Also, there would be a strong urge to clean up after sexual assault. Don't. Go to the nearest hospital immediately and have yourself examined. A trained professional will collect specimens that contain DNA that can serve as evidence in proving the guilt of the assailant. You will also be examined and treated for sexually transmitted diseases. Many women are also given emergency contraception in the form of birth control pills to decrease the chance of pregnancy as a result of the assault.
Dealing With The Trauma
Getting emotional support from your family and friends can help you go through this emotional turmoil more easily. Be sure to confide only in trusted friends. Talking about what happened to you to a friend who divulges this to other people can cause even more distress. Choose the right people to confide in.
It would also help to seek therapy from a reliable psychologist who's experienced when it comes to dealing with cases of sexual assault. It's most important to remember that what happened is not your fault. There have been numerous cases wherein the assailant is able to convince the victim that the victim is at fault as to why the sexual assault was made. An assailant may blame the victim for wearing provocative clothes, for instance. Never blame yourself. Sexual assault is never the fault of the victim.
Moreover, it's normal to have feelings of shock, embarrassment, shame, anger, disbelief and anxiety. All these are normal reactions to any violent crime. It's also possible that a victim would feel numb and not feel any emotion at all. These feelings can all be re-experienced even after years have gone by, which is why it is of utmost importance to seek professional help.