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Common Reactions to Sexual Assault

Regardless of the relationship between the victim/survivor and perpetrator, sexual assault is a traumatic and life changing event. There are many social misconceptions about sexual assault and its effect on a victim/survivor. Many people think that if there is no obvious physical injury, or if the two parties had been intimate in the past, or if the victim/survivor is perceived in some way to have been at fault for the assault, then it really isn’t “rape”. One has to only talk to victim/survivors to know how devastating a sexual assault can be. Not only is it a physical assault, it is an assault that targets the most intimate part of an individual’s being.

Many victim/survivors report that while the sexual assault was horrendous, it was the fear of dying that terrified them. From one victim: “If he could do this to me, then he could just as easily kill me.” That experience does not vary from victim/survivors of stranger sexual assault to victims of non-stranger sexual assault. The fear of imminent death is a common concern.

Advocacy Advocates, Victims/Survivors Minnesota

Last modified: 7/7/2022