Hunts and Cambs 01223 233047
Peterborough 01733 553166

Hunts and Cambs 01223 233047
Peterborough 01733 553166

Here to help you!  CCC is a charity dedicated to removing the barriers to counselling by supporting everyone in the local community with face to face individual counselling sessions at affordable prices for all.

Recovering from rape and sexual assault

What are rape and sexual assault?

Rape is defined as putting a man's penis into another person's mouth, vagina or anus without their consent.

Sexual assault is defined as any act of a sexual nature happening without the other person's consent.

Consent can sometimes be described as 'difficult' or a 'grey area' but the video in the link below helps to clarify consent, particularly around sex.

Consent and a cup of tea

 

It is important that any victim of rape or sexual assault seeks appropriate medical care as soon as possible after the attack, irrespective of whether they wish to report the incident as a crime or not.

 

What are the effects?

The physical and psychological effects of sexual assault can be severe and it is important to seek the right clinical support as soon as possible after an attack.  Reactions differ and different people may cope in a variety of ways but some common responses during the attack include:

  • Fight - aggressive response to defend yourself or attack the attacker
  • Flight - fear leads to attempts to run away and flee the danger
  • Freeze - so overwhelmed by events that you are unable to move or respond
  • Submission - attempt to appease the attacker by appearing to go along with the attack in the hope of minimising discomfort and harm
  • Disassociation - protection mechanism whereby your mind detatches from reality and operates in fantasy to disconnect from what is happening

 

After the attack, it is common for the body and mind to go into shock and trauma, resulting in some of the following responses:

Shaking

Sweating

Nausea or vomiting

Breathlessness

Flashbacks

Night Terrors and Insomnia

Poor Concentration

Exhaustion

Poor Physical Health

Anxiety

Depression

Guilt

Shame

Anger

Disgust

Self-loathing

Irritability

Panic

Obsessive Behaviour

Eating Disorders 

Relationship and Intimacy Problems

Self-harming Behaviours

 

General Coping Strategies

Give yourself time to come to terms with what has happened.  Seek help from friends and professionals to ensure you are taking steps to care for your physical and mental health

Talk about your feelings in a safe way.  Bottling up feelings and avoiding thinking about the attack can make things worse, especially if you are trying to convince yourself that it didn't happen.  Work through events, reminders of and feelings about the attack with someone who understands and will not judge you.  People who have suffered similar experiences can be a great support.

Don't allow yourself to indulge in self-destructive behaviours, including drugs, alcohol, sexual repression or promiscuity, obsessive behaviours and food control.  Remember that you are still alive and you are the same person you were before the attack.  Focus on your achievements and qualities and try to retain your same personality and values.  Return to your usual routines and continue to do the things that bring joy and motivation to you, even if at first you struggle to get the same return from them.

Take extra care of yourself, physically and mentally, being particularly diligent about your own personal safety.  Pamper yourself if you can and try to do onw thing each day which is a positive experience.  Tell yourself that any negative feelings are temporary, that things will get better and that you are in control of your actions from this point.  Look after your mental health, using the 8-step CLANGERS.

Don't make major life-changing decisions straight after a traumatic incident.  Your judgement can be clouded and priorities distorted whilst you are suffering from post traumatic stress.  Talk through any major decisions with a trusted friend or professional and give yourself time to adjust before taking rash action. 

Relaxation techniques and mindfulness can be useful to keep your mind grounded and stop anxiety or irrational thoughts from dominating your consciousness.  There are lots of examples freely available online or a professional therapist will be able to help you, 

 

Mythbusting

The clothes a person wears, the drugs they take, the alcohol they consume and their sexuality do not demonstrate they wish to have sex.

Saying 'no' is not 'playing hard to get'.  NO MEANS NO

Just because someone does not fight back or run away, it does not mean they consent.  If you are not sure, ask.  If they are incapable of saying 'yes' they have not given consent.  In fact most victims are unable to fight back during the attack because of their natural response to shock.  We cannot predict how we would react until we are in that position.

Although there are occasional false allegations of rape and sexual assualt, it is much more common for these crimes not to be reported.  It is estimated that fewer than 10% of sexual assaults are reported.  Of those reported, most are not reported straight away.  Start from a position of believing the victim, especially if they are reporting it to you.  Just because they can't remember every detail does not mean that they are not telling the truth.  In many cases, the mind tries to block out the details to avoid painful memories.

Most sexual assualts are committed by people known to the victim (approximately 90%) and often a former partner or friend.  People of any gender,  sexuality, age, culture or ethnicity can be raped and assaulted.  It is not only attractive women.  Equally, people of any gender, sexuality, age, culture or ethnicity can be capable of rape and sexual assault.  This offence is more about power and domination than sexual attraction.  You cannot spot a rapist by the way they look or act.  Safeguarding measures should, where possible, reduce the opportunity for assaults or allegations to be made rather than relying on trust ad reporting after the event.

Physical arousal responses during the attack do not mean consent.  Some responses are physiological and are not connected to the decision-making process. Equally it is still rape or sexual assault if a person does not give consent, even if both parties have engaed in sexual activity on previous occasions.

 

Seek help 

If you have suffered rape or sexual assault and would benefit from further support or if you are trying to support a victim, contact one of the following organisations or contact CCC for confidential counselling.

Hunts and Cambs 01223 233047                         Peterborough  01733 553166