Common Reactions

What should I expect?

While there is not one way to respond to sexual assault, many survivors experience a range of physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses that are typical of any traumatic event. These responses might last throughout a lifetime, to varying degrees of intensity, as healing from trauma is not a linear process

Common Reactions to a Sexual Assault

For people who experience sexual violence, people often wonder if they are damaged or broken in any way. People worry that others will reject them or blame them for what happened. And, people often ask, “why me?” Sexual violence can shift a person’s understanding of themselves and others – even the world itself.

You are not broken, and you are not responsible for what happened to you. However, it is common to feel tarnished or somehow responsible. Counseling is one of many safe ways to explore the experience of being a crime victim.

There is more and more research about how people are impacted by trauma, including information about neurobiology of trauma. The below resources provide an in-depth exploration of these issues.

30-minute interview with Dr. David Lisak 

Presentation by MSU Professor Dr. Rebecca Campbell for the National Institute of Justice

Research by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk about neurobiology of childhood trauma & abuse