Common Responses for Survivors

Everyone who experiences sexualized violence will be affected differently and will react different. Every individual and situation is unique. Our ways of coping and processing events are shaped by our own unique experiences and our identities.

Some common responses to sexualized violence include:

  • Disbelief or denial
  • Minimizing the events or the impact of the incident
  • Emotional shock, an appearance of flat emotions or calmness
  • Guilt, reflecting on an incident and blaming oneself
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Feeling overwhelmed at work, school, or in everyday life
  • The inability to focus or concentrate
  • Fear (of leaving a safe space, of being alone, being in large groups)
  • A feeling of powerlessness
  • Anger at their assailant, themselves, or those around them
  • Low motivation
  • Feelings of isolation and exhaustion

It is incredibly important to note that those who have experienced sexual violence are not to blame. There is no right or wrong way to act when telling one’s story of sexual violence.

If someone tells you about their experience of sexual violence, or any act of violence, it is so important to support them in their disclosure. LISTEN empathically to their experience, RESPECT their understanding of their experiences and their choices, and REFER them to on- and off-campus support services if they would like further support.

Understanding Trauma

Everyone can experience trauma. Trauma may result from any situation that leaves someone feeling isolated or overwhelmed, including incidents that involve a threat to their safety.

Someone may experience their trauma in subtle or unexpected ways, or it may be blatant and disrupt their ability to live their day-to-day life. Below are some resources to allow everyone to better understand trauma, and how it may affect those we know. 

Indicating External Link What is Emotional and Psychological Trauma?

Indicating External Link Fight or Freeze (video)

Indicating External Link So Many Reasons (video)

Indicating External Link Trauma and the Brain (video)