Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center

SAPAC and Community Support

Individuals outside your immediate circle of loved ones can also provide support and acceptance that may aid in your recovery. You are the person to determine the type of help that is most useful for you. If you are a University of Michigan student, staff, faculty or alumni, please consider using SAPAC as a resource.  If you are a Michigan resident, keep in mind that throughout the state of Michigan there are rape crisis centers that offer advocacy and counseling. Don’t hesitate to seek help from these programs.


Survivors of Sexual Assault Handbook

Common Reactions to Traumatic Events

Initial Crisis:  For the first few days or weeks, the assault may seem unreal.  You may feel numb or you may experience intense or heightened emotions.  You might even have physical symptoms of shock: feeling weak, nauseated, moving slowly, nightmares or inability to sleep.  There is nothing wrong or unusual about these kinds of reactions.

Survivors of Sexual Assault Handbook


Experiencing so many different emotions is a part of working through what has happened to you.  Right now, you may wonder when you will “get your life back.”  Or, perhaps, you are not feeling much at all.  There is no right or wrong way to react to sexual assault.  Many survivors have found that patience, time, and support from others has helped them recover.  SAPAC and other rape crisis centers have worked with many who have had similar experiences.  A good counselor will understand and help you work through the emotional roller coaster that you may be on.


Survivors of Sexual Assault Handbook

What You May Be Feeling

Survivors of sexual assault experience a wide range of reactions.  Some have said that after the assault their emotions go up and down or from one extreme to another.  It is important for you to know that what you are feeling and thinking right now is okay.  Your reactions are your own way of coping with the crime that has been committed against you.

There is no standard response to sexual assault.  You may experience a few, none, or all of the following:

Survivors of Sexual Assault Handbook

Reporting Sexual Assault to Police and/or the University

Information on Reporting Sexual Assault to the Police and/or the University

  • It is the survivor’s right to choose whether to report the sexual assault.

  • Law enforcement officers are not confidential resources.

  • Many survivors who decide to report do not do so immediately.  It is never too late to make a report or to seek help from the University or other agencies. A prompt report may strengthen the case for prosecution.