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RCASA Volunteer Corner

In Sexual Assault Awareness on October 16, 2011 at 6:21 am

WOW!!  The questions keep coming in!  I love that!

Like the past two weeks, I am going to answer a question posed to me recently.

“What is a normal reaction after an assault?”

The simple answer… there is no normal.  Every individual will handle trauma differently.  There are some common reactions, and that’s the info I’m going to share here!

Common Reactions After Trauma

After going through a trauma, survivors often say that their first feeling is relief to be alive. This may be followed by stress, fear, and anger. Trauma survivors may also find they are unable to stop thinking about what happened. Many survivors will show a high level of arousal, which causes them to react strongly to sounds and sights around them.

Most people have some kind of stress reaction after a trauma. Having such a reaction has nothing to do with personal weakness. Stress reactions may last for several days or even a few weeks. For most people, if symptoms occur, they will slowly decrease over time.

All kinds of trauma survivors commonly experience stress reactions. This is true for veterans, children, and disaster rescue or relief workers. If you understand what is happening when you or someone you know reacts to a traumatic event, you may be less fearful and better able to handle things.

Reactions to a trauma may include:

  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Feeling detached or unconcerned about others
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling jumpy and getting startled easily at sudden noises
  • Feeling on guard and constantly alert
  • Having disturbing dreams and memories or flashbacks
  • Having work or school problems

You may also experience more physical reactions such as:

  • Stomach upset and trouble eating
  • Trouble sleeping and feeling very tired
  • Pounding heart, rapid breathing, feeling edgy
  • Sweating
  • Severe headache if thinking of the event
  • Failure to engage in exercise, diet, safe sex, regular health care
  • Excess smoking, alcohol, drugs, food
  • Having your ongoing medical problems get worse

You may have more emotional troubles such as:

  • Feeling nervous, helpless, fearful, sad
  • Feeling shocked, numb, and not able to feel love or joy
  • Avoiding people, places, and things related to the event
  • Being irritable or having outbursts of anger
  • Becoming easily upset or agitated
  • Blaming yourself or having negative views of oneself or the world
  • Distrust of others, getting into conflicts, being over controlling
  • Being withdrawn, feeling rejected or abandoned
  • Loss of intimacy or feeling detached

Turn to your family and friends when you are ready to talk. They are your personal support system. Recovery is an ongoing gradual process. It doesn’t happen through suddenly being “cured” and it doesn’t mean that you will forget what happened. Most people will recover from trauma naturally. If your stress reactions are getting in the way of your relationships, work, or other important activities, you may want to talk to a counselor or your doctor. Good treatments are available.

Experiencing any of these things?  Call the RCASA  24-7 Hotline

Someone is available to help you right away!

for free crisis intervention, counseling, support and medical accompaniment

1-540-371-1666

_________________________________________

Information provided by the National Center for PTSD

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