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Common Responses

There are no right or wrong feelings after sexual assault. Survivors may have a wide range of feelings and feelings may change. Common feelings include:
  • anxiety/ fear
  • confusion
  • guilt
  • shame
  • depression
  • sadness
  • grief/ loss
  • anger
Survivors of sexual assault often experience changes in their thinking as well. Common thoughts include:
  • shock and disbelief
  • a sense of stigma or being alone
  • increased worry about the safety of others
  • pessimism, negative outlook or world view
  • loss of trust in self or others
  • poor concentration, feeling spaced out, difficulty staying focused
Survivors of sexual assault may also experience changes in their behavior. Common behavioral responses include:
  • changes in sleeping (too much or too little, strange or disturbing dreams)
  • changes in eating (more or less, changes in taste and likes and dislikes)
  • avoiding or withdrawing from others, isolation
  • being afraid to be alone, needing to always be with others
  • jumpiness, super awareness and sensitivity to noises, smells, sights
  • aggressive behavior towards self and others (hitting, shoving, pushing, punching, cutting, etc.)
  • increased use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco
  • changes in sexual desire and/ or behavior (more or less interested)
  • radical changes in appearance (hair color, tattoos, piercings, etc.)

This project was supported by Grant Number VAWA ARRA-2009-KASAP-00034 awarded through the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The Opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women or the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.