Teen Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a very traumatic experience for anyone to live through. It violates your most private sense of self and changes your perception that you are in control of your life and body. One of the most important things to remember as you start the recovery process is that you didn't ask for this to happen and it was not your fault.
Reactions to Sexual Assault
Physical -- fatigue, insomnia, hyper-insomnia, changes in appetite, headaches and digestive problems.
Emotional -- shock, disbelief, embarrassment, shame, guilt, powerlessness, fear, anxiety, anger and depression.
Behavioral -- hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating or remembering things you knew previously, flashbacks, under-activity, nightmares, increased startle reactions and wanting to isolate from friends and family.
These are just some examples of ways that your body may attempt to deal with trauma. It is important to remember that these reactions are normal and will not last forever.
Recovery from Sexual Assault
Recovery from any traumatic incident takes time, effort and support from family and friends. It is important to remember that you are safe now. Also try not to blame yourself irrationally for the assault. You did not ask to be assaulted. This may be especially difficult in the case of date or acquaintance rape where you may feel betrayed and worry about your judgment. Remember that the perpetrator used your trust against you and that the assault was not your fault.
Start taking steps to take control of your emotions and return to a normal level of functioning. One way is to keep your day to day activities scheduled, that way you won't find yourself with a lot of free time allowing yourself to dwell on the assault. Indulge yourself in an activity that is good for you such as practicing relaxation techniques, exercising, treating yourself to a special treat or spending time with friends or family. Call a rape crisis center if you need to talk to someone. Most crisis centers have a 24-hour hotline.
Remember that it takes time to recover from any traumatic experience. If you find yourself not being able to recover from the assault after a period of time, consider talking to a therapist who understands the dynamics of sexual assault.
Some important things to think about
Since your assault was of a sexual nature, you now need to consider things like sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and pregnancy. Even if you went to the hospital after the assault it is a good idea to follow up with either your regular doctor or a heath care center that conducts confidential or anonymous testing for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. It is important to undergo any follow up tests recommended by the doctor as some diseases such as HIV can become present after a period of time.
Ways to stay safe in the future
Self-defense classes -- Not only is this a good way to release pent up emotions such as anger, but it can help you regain your self confidence and learn how to avoid and defend yourself from any future attacks.
Take safety precautions -- Never go anywhere with someone you just met, especially in a vehicle or a room where you would be alone.
Date rape drug awareness -- Never leave your drink unattended or allow someone to bring you a drink at a party, date rape drugs have no taste or color and can take affect in as quick as 15 minutes.
RAAP (Rape Assistance & Awareness Program) 24 hour hotline: 303-322-7273
Confidential test site for sexually transmitted diseases: 303-436-7251
Planned Parenthood: 303-425-6624
Denver AIDS Prevention: 303-436-7221
Colorado Department of Health: 303-692-2700
Denver Health Medical Center: 303-436-8100