Managing Trauma Impact
Meaning Making

Question

I got assaulted, but I don’t really feel anything...is something wrong with me?

Answer

The short answer is...no not at all. It is quite common for survivors to feel emotionally detached or drained after experiencing an assault, perhaps even at times feeling unaware of what is happening around them. Survivors can also experience feelings of denial, disbelief, or numbness as a reaction to their assault experience. These reactions should never be confused with "not caring" or with the assault being “not serious.” These feelings are how our body is coping with our experience, protecting us from its intensity. The body’s reaction to stress in this way is often viewed as a survival strategy and can be useful when we have to take some action, such as getting out of a violent situation, weighing our options, or making an appointment with a professional. It is important to note that numbness is not the only emotional shock reaction that you may exhibit. Other normal reactions include: crying uncontrollably, laughing nervously, extreme fatigue, or withdrawing. It is important to be prepared, however, that as you process your experience, the initial numbness may fade. If you would like company, surround yourself with trusted others. Or think about other strategies you can use that have helped in times of crisis in the past. No matter what you are feeling, recognize that these are normal reactions to trauma, and you do not need to face them all on your own.

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