How to Deal with the Effects
Both the physical and emotional effects of sexual violence can be deeply damaging. By learning how to deal with being raped or sexually assaulted, you can find ways to manage your symptoms as you recover and begin to move forward with your life.
How to cope with physical effects
“Physical effects of sexual trauma can look different for each person who experiences it. If there’s something serious going on, a medical doctor is the best person to assess the victim. Therapy can help with more emotional scars but can also provide coping strategies to help deal with any physical symptoms.” – Talkspace therapist Bisma Anwar, LMHC
Seek medical attention
It’s important to be treated by a doctor after sexual assault or rape, even if you don’t think you’ll report the incident. During the visit, you should receive a rape kit and be examined for physical injuries and tested for sexually transmitted infections. Part of figuring out how to cope with sexual assault or rape is making sure that you receive any medical care you might need.
Learn to recognize your body’s signals
Try to become more aware of the signals that your body is sending you. Check in with yourself to see if you’re clenching your teeth, tensing your muscles, or feeling short of breath. By becoming more aware of these symptoms, you can find better ways to cope.
Find ways to self-soothe
Breathing exercises, meditation for stress, and grounding techniques are all effective tools for coping with sexual assault. Not only can these techniques address issues like a racing heartbeat or intense anxiety, but they can also help to bring your attention back to the moment if you’re starting to panic. Experiment with different self-soothing techniques to see what gives you a sense of calm and peace.
How to cope emotionally
“If someone has been the victim of rape or sexual assault, they should not stay silent. Therapy can help support them during this time. They can learn how to move forward with their life and cope with the aftermath of going through such a traumatic experience.” – Talkspace therapist Bisma Anwar, LMHC
Contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline
The National Sexual Assault Hotline provides confidential support 24 hours a day. Whether you’re looking for advice on how to deal with sexual assault or you just need someone to talk to, you can always get one-on-one help from a specialist. For assistance, call 1-800-656-4673 or chat with a specialist online. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is also available in a similar fashion, at 1-800-799-7233, or by texting START to 88788.
Rebuild your support systems
It’s common for people to isolate themselves when they’ve experienced something as traumatic as rape. Find ways to connect with people and build a support system that can give you strength during the healing process.
If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to friends and family, consider joining a support group where you can meet people who understand what you’re going through.
Identify your triggers
A trigger is a situation or action that reminds you of your trauma. People can be triggered by sounds, dates, smells, or even certain behaviors. Finding your triggers can help you learn how to cope with being raped or sexually assaulted. When you’re aware of things that might trigger you and bring up bad memories, you can avoid them or prepare yourself for an emotional response.
Find ways to manage intrusive thoughts
At times, you may experience unwanted or unexpected thoughts related to your trauma. If you’re learning how to deal with being raped or sexually assaulted, try to find ways to control and manage your thought processes, such as journaling for mental health. Instead of trying to push them away, remind yourself that these are intrusive thoughts that will soon pass.
Talk to a therapist
Recovering from sexual violence is never easy. Instead of figuring out how to deal with sexual assault on your own, reach out to a mental health professional who can give you the support you need.
“If you have been the victim of sexual assault or rape, then please reach out for help and support. You might internalize negative thoughts and feelings after this traumatic experience but know that you don’t have to suffer through this time alone. Therapy can help address symptoms of PTSD such as nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety. It can also provide tools to help you cope with how you’re feeling.” – Talkspace therapist Bisma Anwar, LMHC
Therapy can help you work through your trauma, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and find the best ways to move forward. It’s important to be aware of symptoms when you’re learning how to deal with being raped or sexually assaulted.