Help! I was sexually assaulted at a frat party!
You recently had a sexual encounter you did not want. Maybe you were drunk. Maybe you were sober. You may have been all dressed up for going out or perhaps you were wearing your oldest sweats. Maybe it was an unwanted touch, or it could have been rape. Despite the title, I’m not picking on frat parties either. Feel free to replace “frat party” with “in my dorm,” “at a tailgate,” “walking across campus,” or “at my friend’s apartment.”
Was this a sexual assault or a rape?
Sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape can all have a devastating impact on the victim/survivor. You can read about the specific differences between sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape here. However, my advice about what to do immediately after sexual violence is the same whichever category (harassment, assault or rape) your situation falls under.
What should I do now?
First of all, everyone responds differently and that is ok. Below are a few options for you to consider. These are things that have helped other survivors of sexual assault, but you are the expert on your own healing process.
- Tell yourself that it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t welcome the sexual advance. Even if you were frozen in fear and couldn’t bring yourself to fight back, it still is not your fault. Your brain will try to play tricks on you. It will think of a million things you could’ve, would’ve or should’ve done differently. Despite all of these alternatives your brain comes up with, it still wasn’t your fault.
- Tell someone. You may feel ashamed after a sexual assault and worry someone will judge you. However, telling your best friend or parents now may be easier than later and will help your brain process what happened.
- Be patient with yourself. You are in for a roller coaster of emotions. It’s normal to feel off kilter after a sexual assault. If you start to feel stuck or the symptoms of PTSD continue after a couple of months, it may be time to consider counseling. Regardless of how long it takes for you, be patient, acknowledge you went through something traumatic and know that it’s possible to feel like yourself again.
- Look up campus resources. Every college campus has someone who investigates Title 9 violations (here’s the one at MU) you can speak to and the University of Missouri has the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center with an advocate to counsel you. To be honest, going through the Title 9 process is scary, messy and not always the most trauma friendly. But the RSVP center at MU can keep your confidentiality and it’s also possible to talk to the Title 9 office without deciding to follow through on filing the paperwork.
Do I need counseling?
Some people are able to move forward after a sexual assault just by talking to a friend, pastor or parent. Others benefit from counseling. Please call Aspire Counseling, a Columbia, MO counseling clinic specializing in PTSD, today (573-328-2288) to discuss how counseling may help in your unique situation. Our founder, Jessica specializes in helping survivors of sexual assault and has brought on other therapists who are trained in effective PTSD treatments. We believe in the power of counseling and want to help you feel like yourself again.
About the Author
Jessica is a therapist in and the founder of Aspire Counseling in Columbia, MO. She specializes in helping teens, college students & adults who feel stuck in the past and held back by the negative experiences they’ve endured. I have several very skilled therapists that I work with who also believe in your power to find healing from their past and reclaim your life. If you would like to speak to us about how counseling might help you move beyond surviving and toward thriving, please contact Aspire Counseling by e-mail or by calling 573-328-2288. You don’t have to stay stuck. Healing starts here.