Here to Help: Emotional and physical effects

Emotions are expected.

Sexual violence, dating and domestic violence, and stalking are significant and can be traumatizing. Though each person's experience is unique, there are a wide range of emotions that may be felt over the days, weeks, months and even years following a traumatic experience. These reactions may change over time and it may be helpful to address them with the assistance of a counselor or therapist.

Possible physical effects

  • Pain and soreness
  • Injuries
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Sleep pattern disturbances, insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • Loss of appetite or change in eating habits (overeating or under-eating)

Possible psychological and emotional effects

  • Impaired memory
  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Irritability and anger, sadness and grief, social withdrawal, numbing
  • Apathy (detachment, loss of caring)
  • Overwhelming emotions
  • Hypervigilance (always on guard)
  • Easily startled (jumpiness)
  • Sleep disturbance (including nightmares)
  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Loss of trust in self or others
  • Guilt, shame or embarrassment
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Diminished interest in activities or sex
  • Increased interest in sexual activity

Find support.

Contact a close friend, relative or advocate who can provide support and be present during a medical exam and/or at the police department, should you choose to go. Advocates from the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, or CARE, are available to provide a range of support following an assault.

Next: Steps to consider following a sexual assault