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Dealing with the effects of rape & sexual abuse

Whatever sexual abuse you have gone through, it can lead to ripple effects – like dropping a boulder in a lake. Sometimes it can feel like these knock-on effects are even worse than the original blow. It is important not to compare the severity of what you went through, and how it is affecting you, with the experience of others. It is our belief at Lifecentre that each of us is unique and important in our own right.

Sometimes people ask us “Have I been raped?” or “What is sexual abuse?”. We’ve put together some definitions to help with your questions. This section of our website will also give you some guidance on how you might be able to deal more positively with some of the possible effects of rape and sexual abuse. We are all different and may not experience all of the effects included below, but we hope you will find some useful information here to help yourself or others that you care about. All of the issues we look at are understandable effects of sexual abuse. The aim of counselling is to help you to overcome these effects and rebuild a life free of them. We want to encourage you that it is possible to recover your life after rape and other sexually abusive experiences. It takes time; it takes courage; but there is a survivor in you who has the capacity to thrive.

  • Defining rape and sexual abuse

    Here are some definitions to help answer any questions you might have about rape and sexual abuse.

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  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder

    Some survivors can no longer see their bodies as they really are, as their judgment of themselves is affected by the emotions of the abuse they have suffered.

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  • Depression

    Survivors may sometimes develop depression after a traumatic sexual event in their lives. There are lots of different kinds of help available to those living with depression.

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  • Dissociative Identity Disorder

    Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is a coping mechanism the mind can sometimes adopt following sexual trauma. Here you can find further information and helpful resources relating to DID.

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  • Eating Disorders

    There are several different forms of eating disorder. We have compiled a list of websites which you may find helpful for gaining a clearer understanding of what eating disorders are and how you can beat them.

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  • Flashbacks

    Many people suffer from flashbacks of the abuse they have undergone. These are intrusive fragments of memories which can hit us at unwanted times and be extremely overwhelming. Read our suggestions for helping you through flashbacks.

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  • Freeze response

    Many survivors go into a ‘freeze state’ while abuse is happening to them, as a way of surviving. If this has happened to you, you should not feel guilty about feeling unable to fight back. The following resources may help you to understand freeze response better.

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  • Guilt & Shame

    It is not at all uncommon for survivors of abuse to feel guilt and shame. Rape is never the survivor’s fault. We hope this page will help you to process and challenge any guilt you may be feeling.

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  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

    Traumatic abusive experiences can set off a reaction that can last for many months or years. This is called Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and is explained in detail here.

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  • Self-Harm

    Self-harm can be used as a way of coping with extreme trauma and distress. Our resources help to explain the cycle of self-harm and how it can be broken.

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