No one can survive prolonged abuse without having it change them in some
way. When unable to flee, even a very healthy person may experience:
- Feeling sad all the time, feeling hopeless enough to plan to hurt or kill
yourself, feeling explosive anger or feeling numb.
- Changes in thinking and memory, like forgetting all or part of a traumatic
event, reliving traumatic events, blocking out chunks of time, and feeling
detached (separate) from your thoughts or your body.
- Seeing yourself as different and separate from every other person,
feeling helpless and believing that you are “marked” in some permanent way.
- Thinking that the perpetrator is all powerful, feeling obsessed with them
or having intense revenge fantasies.
- Relating to other people differently by isolating yourself, distrusting everyone or looking for someone to rescue you.
- Seeing the world in new ways, such as losing faith, having a sense of
impending doom (feeling like something awful is going to happen all the
time), feeling disconnected from your family or community or not being able to handle everyday events.
The more times you have been assaulted, the more likely you are to believe that the abuse happened because of you. Many survivors of repeated trauma switch from thinking, "it must have happened because of something i did" to "it happened because of who i am."
Remember that no one can force another person to commit rape or assault. It is a choice the perpetrator made. Self-blame does not keep you safer and prevents you from fully healing.