Most of us have a certain sense of safety and control over our bodies. After a sexual assault, a victim feels dirty and contaminated. A child or a sexual assault survivor feels a sense of power being taken away from the control of their own body. The shame of feeling that powerlessness can lead to feelings of contamination and a deep sense of being dirty. After an assault, a person might blame themselves. They might wonder why they didn’t protect themselves, why did they put themselves in that situation, why didn’t anyone protect them?
With the shame might come a deep sense of rejection. If the assault came from someone close, they might wonder why that friend or acquaintance assaulted them. They might develop a feeling of worthlessness that comes from feeling dirty and contaminated from the assault. These deep feelings of shame can lead to a lowered sense of self-worth.
Speaking about sexual assault that happened as a child or as an adult can feel shameful and embarrassing. People who have been sexually assaulted might not dare to tell those close to them because they are worried that they will be judged or blamed. Others are worried that people will feel sad for them, and they don’t want sympathy.
If you have been sexually assaulted as a child or as an adult, you might feel unsafe around those you don’t know and with romantic partners. You might develop hypervigilance, always looking for threat in the environment. Some might relive the experience through flashbacks and nightmares. People who have been through trauma might have a false belief that they don’t matter or count. They might feel that they don’t deserve love, to heal or to have nice things.
If you feel that after an assault, your self-worth, sense of self, and feelings of safety have been diminished or are gone, seeking help can enable you to find healing. It can be challenging to share intense feelings. These intense feelings can feel like panic, fear, and shame. The feelings will be intense at the beginning of therapy, but with time the emotions will calm. Avoidance keeps the trauma stored in your body which could result in physical pain and sickness. Addressing your assault with a safe therapist can help you to regain a sense of control and safety over your body and in the world. Remember, you matter, you count, and so do your feelings and your sense of well-being.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone, please contact me to set up an online session via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although I am a registered clinical psychologist with the Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology, I am not a licensed psychologist or any other type of licensed therapist in the United States. The information I am providing here is educational and informational. This social media page does not provide professional advice, nor does it create a professional-client relationship or any other type of relationship between us. You should always consult your own licensed mental health professional before making any changes regarding your mental health. My goal is to educate, guide, consult, and empower you regarding your mental health journey. Always consult your licensed mental healthcare provider(s) and never disregard or delay medical advice based on information posted on this page or post.