Someone who has been sexually abused needs medical care, comfort, understanding and support.

After you have been abused, you may need help to feel safe again and to manage life after such a traumatic and difficult event. There is no set time for how long it will take to return to your usual self. It can take from a few weeks to a few months or longer – it is different for everyone.

When you have been sexually abused you might:
* feel irritable or moody
* feel angry, frightened, or confused
* feel sad, anxious, or nervous, especially about being alone
* feel like you don’t want to be with friends and family
* not be able to sleep
* have terrible dreams
* have changes in appetite
* be unable to concentrate in school or to participate in everyday activities
* feel like you want to vomit
* feel dizzy
* sweat a lot
* feel like you have a big metal ball on your chest

These may be signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or what is sometimes called “rape trauma syndrome”. This is a normal reaction to sexual abuse.

You should get help if after a month these symptoms have not gone away, or are worse and you now have other symptoms such as:
* difficulty focusing at school or anywhere else
* avoiding things that remind you of abuse, such as not going to school
* you can’t fall asleep
* you can’t forget what happened
* when you are reminded in any way about what happened, you feel your heart beating faster and you start to sweat.

Being sexually abused will often make you feel as though you don’t have control over your life. You might think things like, “I shouldn’t have gone back to the classroom where it happened,” or, “I could have screamed louder,” or, “I shouldn’t have worn my school skirt that day, I should have worn pants.” Remember that none of this is your fault!

Remember: Counsellors are obligated to maintain confidentiality. This means that they can’t talk to others about what you tell them. However, if you have not yet reported your abuse, they may have to report it to the police in order to get you the help that you need.