Seeking Help After Trauma


I experienced sexual violence. How do I get over the guilt of reporting it?


Thank you for this question. I want to start by acknowledging your strength and courage in reaching out for support. Dealing with the aftermath of sexual violence is incredibly difficult, and the feelings of guilt you're experiencing are a common and valid response to trauma and the decisions survivors often need to make in the aftermath. Please know that the guilt is not yours to carry - the responsibility lies solely with the person who harmed you.

Reporting sexual violence is a brave and important step, but it's understandable to feel conflicted or guilty about it. You may worry about not being believed, facing retaliation, disrupting your community, or negatively impacting the life of the person who harmed you. These concerns are normal, but it's crucial to remember that you have every right to seek justice, healing, and safety. Reporting can help protect yourself and others.

Healing from guilt is a process and it will take time. Be patient and compassionate with yourself. It may help to gently remind yourself that you did nothing wrong and made the best decisions you could to take care of yourself. Many survivors find it helpful to talk through these feelings with a trusted person who is trauma-informed. Support groups, either in-person or online, can also provide a safe space to process guilt with others who understand.

Most importantly, please prioritize your own healing and wellbeing right now. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally in whatever ways feel nurturing to you. You may need to limit your exposure to people or information that increase feelings of guilt or self-blame. Surround yourself with supportive, understanding people as much as possible. 

Navigating the legal system can also bring up a lot of difficult emotions. Seek out an advocate who can guide and support you through the reporting process. Remember that regardless of the outcome, telling your story is an act of bravery that can be healing in itself.

You deserve to feel safe, supported, and believed. The guilt and self-doubt you feel are symptoms of the trauma and societal mistreatment of survivors, not reflections of your actions or character. With time and care, they will start to ease. Until then, please be gentle with yourself and reach out for help whenever you need it. You don't have to carry this alone.

Safety Exit