As a survivor of sexual assault, you may be experiencing a range of reactions and emotions, all of which are unique to you and normal. As a female identified survivor, there are specific issues and realities you may be dealing with. First, it is important to remember that no matter the circumstances of the assault, it is not your fault. The person who committed the act is responsible for their actions.
It is never the survivor's fault but societal factors may lead many women to victim blame on themselves. There may be added pressures and difficulties to the healing process for female identified survivors because of victim blaming. Despite the fact that they have been victimized, many women may feel that they are somehow responsible for what occurred. After an assault, many women experience a great deal of guilt. They may question their decisions and behavior before, during, and after the assault. These reactions, however, are part of a pattern that is supported by our society and used by perpetrators to justify sexual violence. Remember that what happens before and during an assault should not be questioned because every person deals with their experiences differently. If you are experiencing emotions of guilt and self-blame, it is important for you to remember that you are not to blame for the assault.
If you feel more comfortable working with a female for support, that is a normal reaction. Should you seek medical attention or counseling, it is okay to request that a woman assist you-in some cases, depending on availability of staff, your request may be fulfilled. You may also feel more comfortable reaching out to men, and that is okay too. However you choose to heal, remember that you are not to blame for what has happened. It is often helpful to seek help from those close to you, but again, the person or place you seek - as well as when, if, and how you seek them - is up to you and only you.
Our How to Help Myself page can provide you with options and resources on Western Michigan University's campus and in Kalamazoo. As a survivor, your priority is you. Are you in a safe place? Do you have the support you need (a friend, family member, or a counselor)? Are you aware of the options available to you concerning medical attention, reporting, and counseling?
You should do whatever you feel is right to care for yourself and recover from your experience of assault. Everyone deals with sexual assault differently, and no one can know what is right for you but you.
Finally, please remember you are not alone. 43.9% of women experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2014).