After Rape

Rape, sexual assault, or sexual violence in childhood mean a severe violation of one’s personality – a so-called trauma. The humiliations suffered, shaming and anxieties during rape or sexual abuse (often going on for years) leave deep wounds that take a long time to heal. Therefore for women and girls affected by sexual violence a supportive environment is of special importance.
Information for supporters

Most survivors having suffered or still suffering from sexual violence feel very lonely. Everyday life often seems unreal to them – as if they were not belonging.
Most of them feel guilty and are ashamed of what somebody else inflicted on them. Many want to keep secret what happened to them, they believe they should have fought their way out or they had somehow made a kind of mistake.

There are several reasons why this is so. One important reason is that up to today society has been blaming women and girls for the violence inflicted on them.
More on this topic under sexual violence.

In Germany, no one has the right to violate the physical, emotional and sexual boundaries of another individual. But most of the women and girls – whether here in Germany or all over the world have great difficulties in holding the perpretator(s) accountable for their crimes.

Although experiences suffered after rape are widely shared among women and girls, their reactions to rape are not – they vary greatly.

Every case of rape is different. Every woman and girl is different. That’s why every kind of reaction to rape is appropriate.

Reactions to rape and sexual assault may be:

Physical symptoms:

  • sleep disorders and nightmares
  • having trouble sleeping, eating, staying focussed (lack of concentration)
  • repetitive flashbacks and panic attacks
  • fragmented memory/gaps in memory

Changes in social behaviour:

  • silence, withdrawal as well as compulsive talking about what happened
  • pathological work enthusiasm as well as incapacity to work
  • changes in sexual behaviour
  • substance use

Emotional reactions:

  • dissociation as a defense mechanism
  • self-loathing, self-blaming, self-reproaches
  • lack of joy of life, grief, suicidal thoughts
  • self-harm or self-injury
  • anger at rapist
  • anger at each and everybody/unchanneled anger

When you have recently been affected by rape you should ask for medical treatment of possible physical injuries as soon as possible.

Try not to stay alone with your emotional injuries and anxieties.

Maybe there is someone in your family or among your friends you can trust and turn to – a trusted person who you know, will believe you.
Talk to a staff member of FRAUEN NOTRUF rape crisis centre. We understand your situation and will support you in sorting your thoughts and emotions. Together we will think about what’s best for you next.

Listen to your inner voice.

You don’t have to go back to normal – neither at once nor at a time that is considered ’normal‘. The tangible impact of rape and sexual assault often lasts for a long time. Coming to terms with sexual violence mentally and emotionally takes time – a lot of time.

Don’t put yourself under pressure.

There is no rule as to the length of the recovery and healing process. Recovery takes exactly the time you as a survivor need. So go at your own pace. The impact of sexual violence can be felt even years later.

Even if the sexual assault took place a long time ago you can always turn to FRAUEN NOTRUF.

Sometimes it is only after days or weeks after that women and girls feel strong enough to share the experience of sexual assault with others. Sometimes it takes years for them to talk about their injuries. Sometimes they become aware of the impact of these traumatic experiences a long time after, e.g. in a situation of crisis or because someone asked about this at a medical examination. Whatever moment you choose to turn to us: FRAUEN NOTRUF staff members support you in fighting the impact of sexual violence on your life and help you regaining control of your life.

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Sexual Violence

Human dignity shall be inviolable.
(Article 1 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany)