Rape trauma syndrome (RTS) is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). RTS is most commonly associated with rape and other forms of sexual assault.

What does trauma feel like?

Here are just some of the ways that you can experience trauma:

Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS)
Rape trauma syndrome (RTS) is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). RTS is most commonly associated with rape and other forms of sexual assault. Many survivors experience symptoms such as:
  • Anxiety
  • Shock, including disorientation
  • Crying
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Withdrawal
  • Rationalisation or denying of the event
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Flashbacks and nightmares
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anger or rage
  • Shame or self-blame
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideation
  • Phobias
Flashbacks
A flashback is a recurring post-traumatic syndrome where a disturbing memory is re-experienced involuntarily, vividly, and at the times aggressively. Flashbacks can be visual, emotional, and even related to sensory experiences. They can be stronger than intrusive thoughts, which is why survivors very often believe that trauma is happening now. Flashbacks may last a few seconds, minutes, or even hours. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can contact our Connect Live where one of our support workers can help you to learn some grounding techniques.

Alcohol and Drug addiction
Alcohol or prescription or non-prescription drugs are often used by women survivors as a way of coping with memories of sexual abuse. We never judge our survivors on how they cope with what has happened to them. If you’re struggling with addiction, you still can receive support from us. When you’re ready, we can recommend other support services linked to addiction. Please contact Connect Live, where one of our qualified support workers will help you to learn more.

Anger
Firstly, it’s ok to be angry. It’s a normal reaction towards the person, or people who abused you and the hurt and pain they caused. We’re raised to believe that anger is a bad thing and that we should suppress it. People are scared of anger. Sometimes anger is all people see, not the pain behind it. We can also be scared of it when it’s inside ourselves. We may feel that if we let it out it may overwhelm us, and we won’t be able to control it. This can lead to survivors turning anger in on themselves, blaming and hurting themselves, or just trying to block it all out. We help survivors deal with their anger in whatever form it takes.

Self-Injury
Self-injury is a way of coping with emotional pain. It’s a release when the pain becomes too much to bear. Women survivors who self-injure are not insane or dangerous. We know they’re just trying to cope with the pain in their lives without hurting anyone else. If you’re self-injuring, you need a space to talk about your experiences, where you are believed, and most importantly, where you’re free of judgment. That’s where we can help.
There are a few ways to keep yourself as safe as you can when you are self-injuring:

  • Use clean blades if you’re cutting and never share with anyone else.
  • Have a well-stocked first aid box where you can get at it easily.
  • If your wounds become infected, get to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you’ve cut too deeply or cut a vein or artery by mistake, get help immediately.
  • If you have burned yourself, dress the burn as quickly as you can. If it’s a large burn, get medical help as quickly as you can. Put the burn in cold water as soon as possible.

Panic Attacks
A panic attack is a random and intense episode of fear with no specific trigger. Panic attacks are described as having physical symptoms that bring out feelings of loss of control and feeling like you are dying. Some survivors may experience rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness, hot or cold flashes, tingling in fingers and toes, trembling, or shaking, headaches, sweating, feeling of loss of control, and stomach pain.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms of trauma, we can help. Contact our Connect Live to speak with one of our support workers or access our drop-in sessions.