Rape recovery is possible. Recovery from rape takes time and effort but you can not only survive the rape, but continue to thrive afterwards.
If you've been unfortunate enough to experience a rape, you are not alone, and you should know that rape is not the end of your wellness, your sex life or any other part of you.
First Step in Recovery From Rape
It's important that the first step in your rape recovery plan be medical treatment. This treatment can screen for sexually transmitted diseases or infections as well as assess the risk for pregnancy and treat any physical injuries. It's important to get medical care as soon as possible to avoid larger problems in the future. Medical treatment providers can also typically refer you to other providers who can help you to recover from rape.
Rape Recovery Treatment
Rape recovery can involve many things and part of this may be formal treatment. Not all people who have been raped feel the need for professional help, but this help can often aid and speed the recovery from rape. Formal treatment is particularly important if you find effects of the rape distressing. These effects might include:1
- Flashbacks of the rape
- Weight gain or loss
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Feeling guilty or responsible
- Feeling out of control
- Unexplained fear or anxiety
- Feeling depressed or hopeless
- Changes in your attitudes towards men
- Fear of your partner
- Changes in your sexual responses (e.g., lack of desire, lack of orgasm, painful intercourse, etc.)
- Wanting to talk to someone about the rape and/or your feelings
Rape recovery treatment typically involves rape therapy. This therapy is delivered one-on-one or in a group. You may also wish to go to couple's counseling so that you and your partner can work through the rape's effects on your relationship.
Local rape crisis centers often provide counseling or can connect you with a provider. Call 1-800-656-HOPE or go to http://centers.rainn.org/ to find a center near you.
Coping with Being Raped
A large part of coping with being raped is learning to again care for yourself after the traumatic event. Rape survivors often feel dirty or guilty, and while rape survivors should never feel these things, these feelings are real and can prevent someone from taking good care of themselves. Good self-care can be an important part of rape recovery.
Physical self-care means caring for your physical needs and is something many people may forget. Physical self-care includes:2
- Diet – while everyone forgets to eat healthily sometimes, it's important when healing from a trauma to take the time to ensure proper nutrition. If your body feels good, it's more likely that your mind will too.
- Exercise – exercise can help combat the feelings of stress, fatigue and depression. Even a midday walk can help you mentally and physically.
- Sleep – many people are chronically sleep deprived and this can contribute to ill feelings. Most adults need 7-10 hours of sleep to function properly.
Getting over being raped also means caring for yourself emotionally. Emotional self-care includes:
- Counseling – seeing a therapist, counselor or psychologist can be a big part of rape recovery
- Journaling – some people find journaling, writing down their thoughts and feelings, helpful
- Meditation or relaxation exercises
Also keep in mind that self-care for rape recovery also involves choosing the right people with which to surround yourself. Choose people who are supportive and don't only call when they want something. Make spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself a priority.