You’re not what happened to you. You’re not what anyone says or does. You are not the fallout that follows.
Rare is the moment that anyone finds the correct words, and sometimes those words do not exist.
Though your physical body may have suffered a horrific experience, your spirit, your worth; remains untouched.
Sexual assault is a deeply serious issue, especially for college students. People across the globe find themselves subjected to untoward horrors and heartbreaking circumstances, none of which they deserve.
It’s a sensitive topic, often garnering the time, space, and attention of more than just the people who are directly involved.
It’s easy to find yourself on unstable ground. You don’t know what direction to go in, or who to reach for. You feel as if your next steps will be taken in the dark.
Here are a few things that can help you move forward:
Seek Medical Attention
It is important to seek out medical attention as soon as possible after a sexual assault.
This does not mean that you have to report the incident to authorities, but it is important to document any injuries and receive necessary treatment.
File A Police Report
If you feel comfortable speaking with law enforcement, proceed to file a report with your local department.
This process can be difficult, but it is important to have all of the information possible should you choose to pursue legal action.
Hire An Attorney
If you decide to pursue legal action, it is important to have an experienced attorney fighting for your rights.
Firms with experience representing victims of sexual assault will be able to guide you through the process, ensure that your voice is heard, and help protect your future.
Find A Support System
It can be difficult to process everything on your own. Seek out a support system comprised of individuals who understand what you are going through and will offer unbiased listening and advice.
Reach Out To A Trusted Friend or Family Member
It can be helpful to have someone to talk to who will not judge or blame you. Talk about what happened, your feelings, and anything else that comes up.
It can be healing simply to express yourself and have someone listen.
Seek Professional Counseling
If you do not feel comfortable speaking with friends or family members, consider seeking professional counseling.
Counselors are trained to help people work through trauma and can provide invaluable support.
Check with your health insurance to see what professionals are available with your plan. You can even get in touch with your college campus’s counseling services.
Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is vital in times of distress. Make sure that you are eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and engaging in physical activity.
Get outside as much as you can and take time for yourself. Take small steps, do things that you enjoy, and spend time around people that you care about.
Create a Safety Plan
If you are feeling unsafe or in danger, it is important to create a safety plan with friends, family, or local resources. Try to avoid going places by yourself and stick with people that you trust.
Talk about what to do if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable and create a plan for how to avoid those situations. And find ways to keep yourself safe on campus.
Don’t visit the homes of people you don’t know, or spend time around people that make you feel uncomfortable.
Assault is never a survivor’s fault, but it is good to take all possible precautions.
Talk to Someone You Trust
It can be incredibly difficult to process what has happened and talk about the experience.
However, talking to someone you trust can be incredibly helpful in beginning the healing process.
This person does not have to be an expert on sexual assault, just someone who will listen and support you.
Don’t Blame Yourself
You may find yourself feeling at fault for what happened. It is important to remember that the assault was not your fault and you did nothing wrong.
No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, regardless of circumstances or environment.
Take Your Time
Healing journeys are not linear. You will have good days and bad days, moments of clarity and moments of confusion.
You will feel anger, sadness, happiness, and everything in between. Allow yourself to experience all of these emotions and know that it is okay to not be okay right now.
The healing process after sexual assault can be difficult and overwhelming. There are many things that survivors can do to begin their journey.
This situation may change you, but it does not define or break you. You’re stronger than you’ve ever been, and healing is possible for you.