The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World
The University of Texas at Austin Division of Student Affairs

voices against violence

Common Reactions

Interpersonal violence can cause a variety of reactions in people and can be traumatizing. Trauma is the physical and emotional reaction to a deeply stressful event. Though each person's experience is unique, the list below includes a wide range of emotions you may feel over the following days, weeks, and months. These lists contain some common, expected effects of sexual assault. It is important to remember that most of these reactions will change over time and all can be addressed with the assistance of a counselor and support.

Common Physical Effects

  • Pain and soreness
  • Injuries
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Sleep pattern disturbances, insomnia or sleeping a lot
  • Loss of appetite or change in eating habits(over or under eating)

Common Psychological and Emotional Effects

  • Impaired memory
  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Irritability and anger
  • Sadness and grief
  • Social withdrawal
  • Numbing
  • Apathy (detachment, loss of caring)
  • Overwhelming emotions
  • Hyper-vigilance (always "on guard")
  • Easily startled (jumpiness)
  • Sleep disturbance (including nightmares)
  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Loss in trust in self or others
  • Guilt, shame, or embarrassment
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Diminished interest in activities or sex
  • Increased interest in sexual activity

Recommended Reading Resources:

The Sexual Healing Journey
Wendy Maltz (2012)

An essential guide for survivors of sexual abuse, The Sexual Healing Journey is a comprehensive guide that helps survivors of sexual abuse heal from the past, improve relationships, and discover the joys of sexual intimacy. Readers are taken step-by-step through the recovery process, integrating expert advice with proven techniques, exercises, and first-person accounts of women and men at every stage of sexual healing.

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness
Peter Levine (2010)

Peter A. Levine draws on his broad experience to explain the nature and transformation of trauma in the body, brain, and psyche. In an Unspoken Voice is based on the idea that trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder, but rather an injury caused by fright, helplessness, and loss that can be healed by engaging our innate capacity to self-regulate high states of arousal and intense emotions. Enriched with a coherent theoretical framework and compelling case examples, the book elegantly blends the latest findings in biology, neuroscience, and body-oriented psychotherapy to show that when we bring together animal instinct and reason, we can become more whole human beings.

Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists
Suzette Boon, Kathy Steele, & Onno van der Hart (2011)

This training manual for patients who have a trauma-related dissociative disorder includes short educational pieces, homework sheets, and exercises that address ways in which dissociation interferes with essential emotional and life skills and support inner communication and collaboration with dissociative parts of the personality. Topics include understanding dissociation and PTSD, using inner reflection, regulating emotion, coping with dissociative problems related to triggers and traumatic memories, resolving sleep problems related to dissociation, coping with relational difficulties, and advice on many other difficulties patients may face.

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
Ellen Bass & Laura Davis (2008)

The Courage to Heal is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope and encouragement to every woman who was sexually abused as a child - and those who care about her. Although the effects of child sexual abuse are long-term and severe, healing is possible. The authors weave personal experience with professional knowledge to show the reader how she can come to terms with her past while moving powerfully into the future. They provide clear explanations, practical suggestions, a map of the healing journey, and many moving first-person examples of the recovery process drawn from their interviews with hundreds of survivors.

David Baldwin's Trauma Information Pages Resources:

Learn More

Sexual Violence
Dating and Relationship Violence
Safety Planning
Taking Care of Yourself
Reporting Options
Concerns Related to Identity
graphic element used to separate content sections

Together we can build a safer campus

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center Voices Against Violence
graphic element used to separate content sections


About VAV

Get Involved

VAV Calendar

Contact VAV

navigate to our hornslink page

navigate to our Facebook page navigate to our Twitter page

navigate to our YouTube page navigate to our Instagram page


Crisis Line

Individual Counseling

Group Counseling


Safety Planning

Immediate Medical Options

Reporting Options

Referrals (on & off campus)

make a gift to the survivor's emergency fund




Healthy Relationships

Dating and Relationship Violence

Sexual Violence


How to Help a Survivor


Theatre for Dialogue

Get Sexy, Get Consent

VAV Student Organization

VAV Support Campaign

Be Vocal

Get Academic Credit

quick escape

Report a Bias Incident  

graphic element used to separate content sections

The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World