Sexual assault is a shocking trauma that, according to RAINN.org, happens every 73 seconds in America. Many times after a traumatic event such as sexual assault, the brain reacts to the confusion of the situation and evokes a defense mechanism which represses your memory of the trauma. This defense mechanism has the tendency to portray the event not as it actually was, and/or creates self-doubt about how traumatic the event was that occurred. You are not alone in your confusion. Many people have struggled with the same doubts after such an incident.
This is most common after being the subject to narcissistic abuse, as a common side effect is self-doubt. Many times, the abuser is a trusted person, so the victim has a hard time accepting their betrayal. It is emotionally taxing to accept such treachery, but crucial to the victim’s healing process. If the abuser’s disloyalty isn’t recognized and acknowledged, many times we will generate excuses for the abuser and give them the power to continue the abuse.
However, it is important to reject such self-doubt and self-blame, and understand that it is a coping and/or defense mechanism of your brain. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault, and what happened to you is an unfortunate reality. Whether you report it or not, that is your decision, and police officials, as well as counselors, will believe you. Your feelings are justified, and there is no excuse for an abuser’s actions. It doesn’t matter if you were under the influence, unclothed, or that you may have initially consented, or any other reason they might try to use to relinquish their responsibility. If you struggled against, did not partake in any actions, said no, or any other blatant forms that showed you did not give consent; you were sexually assaulted. You are not any less because of what happened to you, if anything, you are stronger.
To all sexual assault survivors, I am proud of you for making it through all you have went through. Even if you are still confused, sad, depressed, or angry; I am proud of you. It is okay to not feel okay, as long as you keep going, and never be afraid to reach out for help.
If you’re struggling, it’s never too late to get help. RAINN’s hotlines help more than 400 survivors every day. Call 1-800-656-HOPE.