Usually, recovery moves through phases; Impact, Acute, and Integration. It may be helpful to understand the physical and emotional responses which may occur during these phases. This process of recovery is often called Rape Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Being aware of these phases may provide you greater understanding of your healing process.  Remember, people respond differently to trauma and your experiences may not be the same.

Impact Phase

The typical first reaction to rape is shock, disbelief, and fear. You may respond with crying, shaking, and agitation or with a calm and controlled outward appearance. You may have difficulty continuing your everyday activities, including eating, sleeping, working or studying.

Acute Phase

After the shock has subsided, in some ways your life may get back to normal. You will likely return to your home, school, or work, and get back to your usual routine. You may, however, find yourself experiencing intense feelings such as anger, guilt, fear, denial, revenge, shame and helplessness. Sleep disturbances, nightmares, loss of appetite, a decreased sex drive, and other symptoms of depression may overcome you. You may feel the need to change your address, job, or lifestyle to gain a sense of security. This is the process of working through the trauma.

At this time, you may start blaming yourself for sliding backwards and for failing to get over the rape. It is important to realize that what you are going through is perfectly natural. Treat yourself gently, and do not lay heavy demands on yourself. You may choose to seek help from professionals.

Integration Phase

In this phase of healing, you will develop a greater understanding of the rape in context of your overall life. You will discover what your feelings mean and come to accept them. You will learn much about yourself, including your strength and ability to come through a crisis. You may still have flashbacks of the rape and feel distressed, but these periods will become less frequent and shorter in duration as time goes by. Your greater self-understanding will leave you with the potential for growth and improved relationships. Working through the trauma will have made you stronger.

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