Information for survivors

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds of sexual violence, including but not restricted to: rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape within marriage/relationships, forced marriage, so-called honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, sexual exploitation, and ritual abuse. (Rape Crisis, England and Wales)

We believe that you are not to blame for what happened to you.female sexual violence survivor

However you are feeling now, it is normal.

When a person has experienced something that is shocking, unexpected or traumatic, they are likely to experience deep emotional and physical reactions. They are natural safety mechanisms, your mind and body reacting to a threatening situation by protecting you. Some typical reactions that people can experience after trauma include:

Rapid heartbeat – dry mouth – hyperactivity – sweating – unsteady breathing
Guilt – shame – anxiety – nightmares – panic attacks – insecurity – depression – poor memory
Changes in eating patterns – increased smoking/drinking – impulsiveness – personal neglect

These reactions are normal and will be individual to you. You may find that other people have similar reactions, but no two people react the same way to trauma. They may have been helpful ways to cope immediately after the trauma but may slow down healing later on.

For more information on reactions to sexual violence and advice on the healing process, you can download our self-help guide. We also have our helpline and email support services, counselling and group work.

You are not alone.