Feelings a Sexual Assault Survivor May Experience:
FEAR: In many instances a sexual assault survivor
     has experienced the fear of losing her/his
     life. In these cases, fear is the dominate
     Talk with your client about measures she/he
     has taken to feel safe; are the doors and
     windows locked, are emergency phone numbers
     easily accessible, etc. As a result of this
     fear, she/he may be forced to make changes
     in lifestyle, and this loss of freedom may
     cause anger. Focus on rewarding personal
     strengths and on the present rather than on
     the past.

ANGER: There is often as much anger at the events
     following the assault, as toward the assault
     itself; changing lifestyle, loss of freedom,
     being told to "get over it" by friends and
     family. Validate the feelings of anger and
     create a safe place for expression. How can
     the anger be expressed in a constructive way?
     Does the expression of anger help to diffuse

GUILT AND SHAME: Even though a survivor may know that she/he is
     not responsible for the assault, the reactions
     of those around her/him, the media, etc., may
     create feelings of guilt, shame and responsi-
     bility. It is often easier to take the
     responsibility for blame than to admit that the
     rape has happened. Be supportive, tell the
     survivor that it was not her/his fault. Help
     to separate the problems of others from

MISTRUST: Often survivors will say that they have lost
     all faith in others. Validate feelings, but
     remind of support systems, people she can
     trust and count on, etc.

FEELING LIKE THEY Many survivors tell us this. Extreme anxiety
 ARE GOING CRAZY: and stress, loss of sleep, and feelings of
     lack of control, can cause a person to feel
     like they're going crazy. Reassure the
     survivor that these feelings are normal
     reactions to a crazy situation. Focus on
     the things that she/he does have control
     over, and help to narrow problems to those
     that can be dealt with right now.

Compiled by Ithaca Rape Crisis, Revised January 1990

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