common reactions to sexual assault


Statistics show that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 331 men will experience sexual abuse at some time in their lives. This violation of the survivor's body can have lasting physical and emotional consequences; therefore, it is important for her/him to seek help and for those around the survivor to educate themselves about the issues.

Common Reactions to Sexual Assault

  • Shock and numbness
  • Disbelief
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Embarrassment and shame
  • Feelings of helplessness


The most important thing to remember is that each person's healing process is unique to the individual and there is no correct way to move through that process. It is also very important not to put the survivor on a healing timeline - there is no appropriate time limit to the healing process nor is there a time when a survivor should be "over it."

1. National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.