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How to Recover from Date Rape

Being sexually assaulted by someone you know is much more common than stranger rape, and every bit as traumatic. Here are some suggestions that may help you cope.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Don't blame yourself Don't blame yourself. How you met this person, where you went with him, how much you drank, and other details are all irrelevant. It may be called date rape, acquaintance rape, or non-stranger rape -- the bottom line is that it is rape. And it is not your fault.
  • Step 2: Report the rape Report the rape immediately. Unlike rape victims who didn't know the perpetrator, date rape victims often go into denial, convincing themselves that they were somehow complicit. But the longer you delay reporting the assault, the tougher it will be to get a conviction. Never contact your attacker to try to sort out what happened.
  • TIP: Report the rape even if you're not sure you want to press charges. It may lead to the rapist's arrest if others come forward or have previously filed complaints.
  • Step 3: Tell a loved one Tell a loved one about the assault immediately. One study showed date rape victims wait an average of 7 months before telling anyone. Another study concluded that rape survivors who confided in one or more friends or family members were less likely to experience stress-related physical symptoms.
  • Step 4: See someone Consider seeing a mental-health therapist or counselor. And think about joining a support group: talking to others who know what you're going through may help you recover.
  • Step 5: Recognize PTSD Recognize the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects many rape survivors: nightmares, flashbacks, recurrent thoughts about the rape, social withdrawal, emotional numbness, increased startle response, and irritability. These reactions are normal; therapy can help mitigate them.
  • Step 6: Let it all out If you end up testifying about the attack, don't feel bad if the tears flow. In fact, trial experts say jurors are more likely to believe date rape victims who display emotion on the witness stand.
  • FACT: About three-quarters of rape victims know their attacker, according to the Department of Justice.

You Will Need

  • Self-forgiveness
  • Police report
  • Confidantes
  • Therapy
  • Support group

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