Sexual and relationship violence are traumatic events. Losing a sense of safety and control over one’s body and environment can change the way a survivor approaches every aspect of their life. Healing begins when the individual’s sense of control returns, and that takes time and support.

Everyone processes traumatic events a little differently. Commons reactions include:

  • Anger
  • Feeling numb
  • Crying
  • Being extremely calm
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Isolation
  • Embarrassment
  • Problems with concentration and focus
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Self-blame
  • Worrying that others will find out
  • Not wanting to talk about it
  • Not wanting to be touched
  • Not wanting to be alone


Self-care means caring for yourself as you would a good friend. It also means not doing things that harm you or make you more vulnerable. Because everyone’s reaction to sexual assault is different, there is no way to practice self-care. Planning how you will care for yourself can help if you start to feel overwhelmed. There are some things you may want to make part of your plan.

  • Write in a journal
  • Create art
  • Take a walk
  • Exercise
  • Eat your favorite food
  • Read
  • Breathe
  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Wear your favorite clothes
  • Give your permission to feel whatever you are feeling


Faculty/staff members and counselors are good resources, and friends and family can help, but you will do most of the work of healing on your own. There are many resources available online. Here are some suggestions to start with:

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

Pandora’s Project