I was raped last month...I'm getting therapy, so why isn't it helping?

Hey Auntie. I was raped last month. My case is going well because a friend of mine told an adult and she reported it to the police. But even with that knowledge I am bitter. I snap at friends and family and say awful things I don't even mean. I'm usually an outgoing person, but this has made my depression and anxiety much worse. I'm getting therapy, so why isn't it helping? I just want to be normal me again.

Thanks so much for reaching out to me with your question. A sexual assault, or rape, can be a very traumatic experience - both physically and mentally. While it's only been a month since the incident occurred, it sounds like you've taken two very important first steps: 1) reporting the assault and 2) seeking help from a trained therapist. Give yourself a lot of credit - Both actions take a lot of bravery!

It will inevitably take time to fully process your emotions. Below are some common things you might experience as you work through the trauma (some therapists also refer to the stages of grief):

Acute phase. Immediately after the sexual assault, many survivors feel shock, fear, or anger. This phase usually lasts a week or two. Some survivors aren't able to talk about the assault - they have nightmares and feel shocked, guilty, ashamed, powerless, angry, depressed, or are afraid of being touched.

Adjustment phase. After the initial shock has worn off, many survivors try to carry on with their normal lives. Some survivors try to push the thoughts and feelings away by pretending the rape didn't happen. During this phase, you may not be fully open to the counseling process.

Integration phase. Some survivors start to feel depressed or anxious, or start thinking about the rapist more. In this phase they feel more ready to talk. It's a good time to get support and reassurance from a counselor.

Renewal phase. After time, you will begin to make sense of the trauma and feel safe in the world again. Your symptoms will ease off. The memory of the rape will not have the same effect on you. You will feel more in control and able to move forward.

Wherever you are in this process, there is no one way to recover. Everyone's healing journey is unique, including the time they take to progress through each phase. If you've only had 2 or 3 counseling sessions so far, stick with it. It'll take time to develop a relationship with your therapist; when trust is there, healing will begin!

Fortunately, it sounds like you are surrounded by friends and family, who are offering you good advice and support. And I send you my very best wishes for healing as well.

Love, Auntie Manda