Common Reactions

First, know that there is no standard response to an experience of stalking or sexual or interpersonal violence. All survivor reactions are “normal.”

Most survivors cannot remember the entire story. They may be confused, have blotchy memories or complete gaps of memory after the event. This is a normal response to something that is traumatic, highly stressful and unexpected.

Feelings of fear, sadness and anger are common. Some people may feel numb. Others experience shock, disbelief or even denial and many have reported feeling helplessness and a loss of control.

Even though it is never the fault of the survivor, some people may feel guilty and blame themselves for things they did or did not do. Others fear being blamed by others.

Maintaining relationships and productivity in school or work can be difficult after experiencing violence. Some survivors avoid talking about what happened or going places that are reminders and most have difficulty trusting others. 

MYTH

FACT

Rapes only occur by strangers.

85 percent of all rapes occur by someone the survivor knows.

If the survivor was drinking, it is their fault.

Fact: More than 50 percent of all experiences of sexual violence include alcohol and drugs by one or both of the parties. Many rapists will use alcohol and drugs as a weapon to make the survivor more vulnerable.

Rape cannot occur if the people are (or were) dating.

More than half of all rapes occur in a dating or previously dating relationship.

Rape only happens to women.

Sexual violence is about power and domination, and can be experienced by all people, regarding of sexual or gender identity.