The First Few Weeks After The Attack

The acute stage of your recovery.

During this stage of recovery you may be experiencing shock or numbness, and be unable to make simple decisions about your life. It may be that your family or friends try to persuade you to do things, which they think is best, but which you are not sure about, such as reporting the attack to the police.

Possible reactions 

Visibly upset – tearful, angry, fearful, tense, and hysterical. This is perhaps the way you would expect someone else to react – they may, or they may experience:

Controlled Emotions – appearing calm, reluctant to talk, talking about the attack as if it had happened to someone else. This happens as a person attempts to detach from the painful memory, helping to avoid its full impact. This reaction often surprises people, but is actually very common.

A combination of the above – particularly when coming out of the initial shock, it is possible to swing from very blunted to very extreme feelings. At times your feelings may simply shut down if you are overwhelmed by their strength.

Other factors which determine reactions at this stage of recovery may be:

  • Fear of not being believed

  • Fear of the reactions of your family and friends

  • Fear of reprisals from the attacker, or of not feeling safe

  • If you are a heterosexual man, you may fear that you are, or other people may assume you are gay
    For women, the fear of pregnancy

  • For women and men, the fear of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

You may also experience:

  • A continuing feeling of powerlessness and vulnerability

  • Soreness all over your body, especially the area on which the attack was focussed. You may be sore in parts of your body which you don’t remember being injured at the time. This may happen if you ‘switched off’ during the attack. If you did switch off you may only remember specific details, perhaps a picture on the wall, but not what actually happened. You may or may not recall the events at a later stage and remain unclear about certain details of what occurred.

  • Being unable to sleep/needing to sleep all the time.

  • Being unable to eat, vomiting, feeling sick or binge eating.

  • Needing to drink alcohol excessively to blot out the memory.

  • Feeling that your body no longer belongs to you or that you are physically dirty. You may spend a lot of time washing and bathing to try and get rid of this feeling.

  • You may experience feelings of being ashamed or embossed about the assault, or the things that happen during it, especially if you had to engage in acts you would choose not to.

  • You may feel very angry, which can be confusing if you usually consider yourself to be a person who never gets angry. Sometimes you might feel it is easier to be angry with yourself rather than the person who assaulted you. Feelings of anger and self blame can lead to depression.
    You may be asking “Why me?”