The trauma of sexual assault leaves victims with physical, emotional, and psychological wounds. Many steps can help survivors heal and move on. Dealing with the aftermath can be a long and difficult journey. Survivors will need to take care of their mental and physical health while also researching top lawyers in San Antonio TX to help prosecute the assailant.
There are around one in five women in the United States who has been sexually assaulted at some point in their life. In other countries, the figure is even higher. Regardless of age or gender, sexual violence can have significant impacts on a person’s life.
Most victims no longer feel safe in their daily lives. You may feel like you’re not worth anything anymore. You may blame yourself for everything that happened to you. You may also feel isolated and ashamed. It can be difficult to form new relationships.
It’s important to remember these symptoms are normal reactions to trauma. They can be difficult to get over, but they can also help you come to terms with what happened.
Steps To Take After Being A Victim Of Sexual Abuse
1. Ensure Your Safety
After a sexual assault, the first and most important factor is to make sure you’re safe. Your well-being is the first thing to take care of. Most people who have been assaulted experience a sense of derealization and shock. The limbic system is responsible for processing emotion and triggering flight reactions. Oftentimes, survivors can use any coping mechanisms they can think of to establish a sense of security and normalcy.
2. Open Up To Someone About What Happened
It can be very difficult to admit that you were sexually assaulted. There is a stigma attached to it, and it can make you feel ashamed and weak. You may think you look different to everyone after the attack. You can heal when you trust someone to share your innermost feelings and fears. Ideally, you should start with someone supportive and calm. However, if you do not find these qualities in someone, talk to a trusted friend or a therapist.
Being traumatized leaves you feeling powerless and isolated. There are some ways to regain your sense of power, such as volunteering. Support groups can help you feel more supported and less isolated. They also provide helpful information on how to manage your symptoms.
3. Be Prepared For Upsetting Memories and Flashbacks
When you go through a traumatic event, your body goes into a state of fight or flight. But suddenly experiencing rape can trigger this response. After an assault, nightmares and flashbacks are common to have. They can last for a long time without getting the necessary help. Being stuck with these in the long term can also lead to PTSD.
You may want to prepare for certain triggers, such as anniversaries and visiting certain locations. Having a good understanding of what triggers can cause an upset reaction will help you manage it better.
Your body’s warning signs can help you identify when you’re feeling unsafe. You may notice your racing thoughts, tense feelings, hot flashes, breath-holding, nausea, and dizziness. When you feel these symptoms coming on, take simple steps to self-soothe. It is vital to calm yourself down quickly to avoid spiraling out of control.
4. Get Medical Help
Many survivors of sexual assault may be reluctant to seek medical attention in the immediate aftermath of their assault. This is typically because they are afraid that they might be perceived as liars. Getting medical attention can help prevent or treat sexual assault injuries. It can also help minimize the effects of an assault on your body.
Rape kits are also available at some centers. These kits can be used to collect evidence such as blood samples, urine, and saliva. If you decide to wait for the police to arrive, these can be used to store the evidence. Getting a rape kit can be scary, especially when you have just been sexually abused. Thankfully, the kits can be quickly completed. In most cases, the time needed to collect forensic evidence is only 72 hours. Victims are also advised to avoid going to the restroom or changing their clothes before the exam.
5. Consider Getting Legal Help
Some survivors want to file a police report, while others may be reluctant to do so. For some, this is the only option worth considering. Many survivors of sexual assault choose not to contact the police or pursue legal action due to their fear of their attacker’s status. Another reason is they have been assaulted by someone they know.
Around 70% of sexual assaults happen because the victim knows the perpetrator. This causes victims to feel ashamed and anxious. Having nightmares about their trauma can also discourage victims from coming forward and reporting an incident. Speaking with law enforcement officers can be very helpful in proving a sexual abuse case.
According to experts, supporting a survivor is important, even though they may feel powerless. They still have options and can still pursue their story. Supporting them may mean encouraging them to pursue their rights as a victim of sexual abuse.
Moving On After Sexual Abuse
Healing from sexual trauma doesn’t happen immediately, and it can be slow and challenging to deal with. There are many steps you can take to help manage the residual symptoms and reduce anxiety. Ideally, take time to rest and nourish your body when you’re tired. Doing something compulsively helps keep you from losing yourself.
Be wary of movies and TV shows that can trigger bad memories or even make you feel like a hostage. Certain things can be very distracting, but make sure it’s the right activities. It’s also important to take care of yourself physically. Whether it’s through exercise or eating right, it can help you heal and reduce stress. Alcohol and drugs can be harmful to those with trauma. They can also contribute to feelings of isolation and depression.
To help move on completely, many sexual abuse victims seek help from top lawyers in San Antonio TX to help them build a case against the perpetrator. A professional law firm will guide you through the legal process and help you get justice and move on with your life.