Home page: For Men: The Impact of Rape/Sexual Assaul

The Impact of Rape/Sexual Assault

Being raped is an overwhelming and terrifying experience that can lead to a whole range of feelings and reactions. There are no right or wrong ways to react but you may find yourself feeling some or all of these:

Shock - in the days after the assault you may feel numb or even wonder if the assault happened.

Fear - being sexually assaulted can be a life threatening experience. You may find yourself being afraid of people, of being alone and of the rapist returning. Many things that seemed safe before may no longer seem that way.

Relief - at the fact that you survived the attack

Anger - can sometimes be overwhelming though this is a natural and basically healthy reaction to being sexually assaulted. Feeling angry does not necessarily mean you have to act on your anger. There are many positive ways to deal with that anger.

Loss of identity - because being sexually assaulted takes away your control over your own body. Many men feel that part of them is wiped out.

Flashbacks - you may find at first that the assault is on your mind constantly. After a while these thoughts become flashbacks, which may be triggered by things that remind you.

Depression - there are times when men feel depressed but still think they should be over it. This is normal.

Shame - some people feel that being raped/sexually assaulted marks them or makes then dirty in some way.

Guilt - at some stage you may feel that you should have been able to prevent the assault or you are in some way to blame for what happened. This may be particularly so if you were sexually abused as a boy. The only person responsible for the abuse is the perpetrator. Nobody ever deserves to be abused.

Sleep disturbances - you may wake up at odd times, have difficulty going to sleep and have disturbing or recurrent dreams.

Sexuality - some men feel that assumptions have been or will be made about their sexuality. Heterosexual men may wonder if being raped/sexually assaulted will make them gay. Gay men may blame their lifestyle or feel they were targeted because they are gay.

Loss of sexual enjoyment - because of reminders from the rape/sexual assault and other effects of the assault, you may experience difficulties in your relationship.