If you’re a victim of rape—recent or not—it’s important to recognize that the psychological impact can be complex and long-lasting. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, everyone reacts to trauma differently; there’s no “normal” reaction or path to recovery. Patience and learning to seek and accept support when it’s needed are key.
If the rape was recent, ensuring your physical health and safety is the first priority. Seek medical attention immediately. Call 911 to report the rape to the police, or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673) to reach a counselor who can help you through the initial legal process.
Full medical care is important after any kind of attack, and authorities will be better informed in finding and charging your attacker. The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network also urges rape victims to get tested for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Remember that a sexual assault isn’t the fault of the victim. Allow yourself time to heal, including eating enough and getting adequate sleep. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network suggests meditating or keeping a journal. The Sexual Assault Resource Center recommends getting counseling either individually or as part of a group; you could also try a combination of the two. Take advantage of the emotional support of trusted friends. And when you feel ready, resuming favorite activities can help you reclaim a sense of control.
Good resources include the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, and the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center. For immediate help, visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or call 800-656-4673.