If you are a survivor of any form of sexual violence, no matter when or how it happened, we want you to know that we believe you, that what happened is not your fault, and that help is available. At the right, you will find links to information and resources to assist you with your specific questions and concerns, including a complete listing of rape crisis centers throughout Ohio. If you do not find the information you need, please call us at 216-658-1381 or 888-886-8388, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve recently experienced sexual violence, we encourage you to tell someone. You don’t need or deserve to suffer in silence. Rape crisis centers specialize in helping survivors to sort through their emotions and to make decisions about what happens next. It’s also important that you seek medical attention to ensure your physical health and well-being. In our listing of resources, you will find contact information for the nearest Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. SANEs are specially-trained nurses who collect evidence, assess for and treat injuries, and provide treatment for potential exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you do not want to be examined by a SANE, it is still important that you are assessed by a medical professional, either at a clinic or a physician’s office.
If it’s been a while – months or even years – since you’ve experienced sexual violence, it’s important to know that your needs are just as legitimate now as any other point in your recovery process. Each survivor reacts to and recovers from sexual violence at his/her own pace in his/her own way. There is no right or wrong way to feel, nor is there a timeline any survivor must stick to. It’s common for survivors to experience varying emotions in varying levels of intensity over time. It’s also common for survivors to struggle with memories of the victimization during major milestones or transitions in life. If you’ve never told anyone about what happened to you, it’s never too late to tell someone and get help. Even if you’ve received help in the past, your present struggles or concerns are important.
While every incident of sexual violence is experienced differently, most survivors experience the following reactions at some point in their recovery process, all of which are normal reactions to the unique and traumatic crime of sexual violence:
- Physical reactions: may include changes in eating and sleeping patterns, fatigue, headache, stomachache/nausea, gastro-intestinal problems, pelvic pain, and other persistent physical symptoms
- Mental/emotional reactions: may include fear, sadness/depression, anger, anxiety, shame, embarrassment, self-blame, nightmares/flashbacks and other emotional reactions, any of which may fluctuate in unpredictable ways
- Behavioral reactions: may include hypervigilence, difficulty concentrating on work, school or other activities, irritability, neediness, and difficulty with physical and/or emotional intimacy, among other reactions
Sexual violence is never the fault of the survivor. The only ones responsible for sexual violence are those who choose to commit it. Sexual violence is a serious crime and a traumatic experience that impacts survivors in many ways. If you are experiencing physical or emotional symptoms that are interfering with your life, get help. It’s never a sign of weakness to seek help in recovering from sexual violence of any kind, no matter when or how it happened. You deserve to be safe, healthy, and happy.