Call University Counseling Services at (203) 392-5475 or the Women and Families Center
of Greater New Haven: Sexual Assault Crisis Services 24-hour hotline -- 1-888-999-5545
(English) or 1-888-568-8332 (Spanish) or (203) 235-4444 (out of State) for a free
confidential counseling appointment. The normal reactions to sexual assault can make
you feel very uncomfortable, and counseling can help you heal sooner and more completely.
The psychological and emotional trauma caused by a sexual assault can be severe and
long-lasting. Because people react in very different ways to stress, it is not possible
to predict exactly how you will feel. It may be helpful for you to know some of the
most common responses of sexual assault survivors. Some common reactions include:
shock and disbelief, remembering what happened and what it felt like (includes flashbacks
and nightmares), experiencing intense emotions, physical symptoms, feeling fearful,
and or feeling guilt, shame, and self-blame.
Each person is unique. Although many victims experience similar reactions, there are
still individual differences in how they respond to the trauma of sexual assault.
You may experience some or all of these symptoms. They may occur immediately, or you
may have a delayed reaction weeks or months later. Certain situations, such as seeing
the assailant or testifying in court, may intensify the symptoms or cause them to
reoccur after a period during which you have been feeling better.
Some assault victims feel that if they avoid talking about the assault, they will
be able to forget about what happened to them. Most survivors who try this approach
eventually realize that they need to deal with the assault. Their unresolved feelings
and fears hold them back from enjoying their lives and participating fully in relationships.
Talking about the assault can help relieve some of the control it has over you and
help you begin the process of recovery. We recommend that survivors seek professional
counseling as soon as possible to begin the healing process. Therapy provides a safe,
private place to deal with your feelings and concerns. A counselor can also help you
deal with the reactions of family members, partners and friends.