Get Emotional Help

A traumatic sexual experience can have lasting effects on your mental health. That is because this is a serious violation of your body and trust—and not because you are not strong. As a survivor, you might develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, or insomnia after an incident. You might struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy. None of these responses to trauma make you a weak person, and there are many resources to help you feel better.
“I thought it was normal. I thought I probably brought it on myself. I thought no one would care. I thought it probably didn't matter anyway. I thought I wasn't important enough to bother. I thought I was alone.”
- Anonymous Survivor

Finding a Therapist

Therapy

Therapists help us navigate through difficult times of our lives, find new meaning in trauma, and teach us helpful coping skills. Therapists usually hold degrees in counseling, social work, or psychology. It is helpful to search for a trauma-informed therapist, as they specialize in working with survivors.
Finding a therapist can seem like a big undertaking, but it doesn't have to be. It's likely that your campus health center offers mental health support. Reach out to them to identify available resources. In addition, there are also likely mental health professionals working in your community. It's okay if it takes a while to find a therapist who is the right fit for you.

Psychiatry

Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors, and have the ability to prescribe medication. Your therapist might refer you to a psychiatrist if they believe that psychiatric medication would help you feel better.

Online or Text-Based Therapy

If in-person therapy is not for you, you can speak to someone online from the comfort of your own home.
Crisis Text Line is a free crisis texting service staffed by trained volunteers. You can text 741741 from anywhere in the U.S. to be matched with a volunteer.
BetterHelp offers affordable, private online counseling.
TalkSpace offers online therapy with a licensed therapist.

If you are in danger or suicidal, please call 911.

Talking to Your Loved Ones

You own your story. Only you can decide if it is the right time in your journey to talk about your experience with loved ones. If you choose not to talk about it, that is okay too. There is never pressure to come forward if you do not feel ready.
Preparation
If you are feeling nervous, you might want to consider writing down what you want to say beforehand. That way, if you lose your train of thought, get emotional, or have a difficult time finishing, you can rely on your notes. It can also help to tell your loved ones what your expectations are of them, so they can prepare themselves. For example, you might want to open with, “I would like to share something that happened to me with you. It won’t be easy for me to talk about, and it might not be easy for you to hear. I only ask that you listen, and be patient with me.”
After the conversation, try to find time to practice self-care.

Time & Location

If you have decided to tell the people you love what happened to you, the timing and location of the conversation can be important. For example, it can help to have the conversation when none of the parties involved are in a hurry—so avoid morning rush hours, or when you or your loved one have an immediate commitment. It can also help to have the conversation in a quiet place you find safe.
Sometimes, even when we say and do all the right things, these conversations might not go well. Our loved ones might be afraid, angry, or triggered themselves, and act in ways that make you feel unsupported. To prepare for these difficult moments, you might want to consider picking a place you can leave comfortably if you need to remove yourself from the conversation. That way, if the conversation does not go the way you hoped, you can say, “Thank you so much for listening. I’m going to need some time for myself now.”

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