There isn’t one way that victims or survivors feel after experiencing sexual trauma or abuse. Every emotion is valid and real. Here are some examples of emotions or reactions that a victim or survivor might have.
- Anxiety, fear, depression
- Physical health symptoms
- Flashbacks, intrusive and distressing memories of the violence
- Disorientation and difficulty concentrating
- Self-blame, guilt, and shame
- “Shutting down”, avoidance, or emotional numbing
Coping responses: Everyone responds differently to trauma. Survivors may use a variety of coping mechanisms including: alcohol/drug use, social isolation, anger and aggressive behavior toward others, avoidance, cutting, disordered eating, high-risk sexual behaviors, etc.
It’s okay for a survivor to have happy experiences! Everyone reacts differently and it’s okay for survivors of trauma to still experience joy and happiness. This might be seen as avoidance by others, but every emotion the survivor experiences is real and valid.