Understanding Reactions

Every survivor will have their own set of physical and emotional reactions. Interpersonal violence can affect many lives in many different ways.

If you have recently experienced violence, you are probably having many different feelings or reactions. People have different ways of responding to crisis and it is important to know that this is ok! There is no right or wrong way to react. In fact, your body and your mind will respond in different ways. The following are some of the most common reactions that you may encounter:

Physical Effects

  • changes in eating patterns
  • changes in sleeping patterns
  • eating disorders
  • fatigue
  • gastrointestinal irritability
  • headaches
  • HIV/AIDS
  • muscular tension
  • nightmares
  • physical injuries
  • pregnancy
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • substance abuse
  • soreness
  • stress related depression
  • immune system responses

Emotional Effects

  • anger
  • anxiety
  • denial
  • depression, sadness
  • embarrassment, feeling exposed, humiliated
  • fear
  • helplessness
  • hopelessness
  • muscular tension
  • mood swings
  • numbness
  • obsessions/compulsions
  • phobias
  • sense of disbelief
  • sense of unreality
  • shame, guilt, self-blame
  • vulnerability
  • shock

Cognitive Effects

  • am I damaged goods?
  • am I dirty?
  • confusion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • flashbacks
  • I deserved it because...
  • if I forget about it, it will go away...
  • what if I hadn't done...?
  • what will people think?
  • why me?
  • will others reject me?
  • will they blame me?

Social Effects

  • changes in lifestyle
  • difficulty getting things accomplished
  • difficulty with intimacy
  • difficulty/apprehension around men or apprehension around persons having similar attributes to the perpetrator
  • discomfort around other people
  • disruption in sexual relations
  • fear of being alone
  • fear of leaving house (especially alone)
  • fear/nervousness in crowds
  • hypersensitivity when relating to others
  • loss of trust in self and others
  • withdrawal from people, relationships, activities

For support in processing and navigating these feelings, contact the Counseling Center .