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Suggested steps in healing

Three themes of healing:

Reaching out for help, Reframing the rape (it was not your fault), and Redefining the self (you are normal)

Please read "If you were my sister..."



1. Call for help

You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, 24 hours a day at

 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)


You can also search for your local rape crisis center. You can find hotlines at www.rainn.org. If you call RAINN they will automatically refer you to a local hotline operator. You can choose which crisis center you contact by looking up the number here. Feel free to request to speak to a woman. Call 911 if you need to report a sexual assault to the police or are in danger now. Please read What to do first from RAINN. If you are reporting a rape you should ask the local crisis center for a victim's advocate who will walk you through the process. For information on Reporting a rape click here.


World Wide Directory of Abuse Lines




2. Find a support group

Online support group message boards are recommended as a good first step (if you are not ready to talk in person). You also need to speak to a rape crisis counselor and a therapist.


Find rape crisis support

message boards here




Coping skills for panic attacks - Please read this list of calming and coping skills if you are having anxiety now.



3. Get free counseling

You may want to seek free counseling from your local rape crisis center.


Find rape crisis centers here

or in the

International directory




Find free student counseling

from your university



Police reports are not mandatory if you speak to a rape crisis counselor.


4. Find a therapist


Seek treatment from a trained therapist specializing in Rape Trauma Syndrome as soon as possible. RAINN also provides therapist referrals.

For information call The APA for referrals- 1.800.964.2000

or the NMHA at 1.800.969.6642 or (UK) 0845.766.0163


Find a therapist near you



Find rape crisis services near you


Comprehensive information about mental health services and resources. This is useful for professionals, consumers and their families, and the public. For more information on finding a therapist click here.


UK and international therapy resources




5. Learn coping skills for panic attacks


Resources for panic attacks

If you are having a panic attack now please try these coping skills and contact a trained therapist as soon as possible.

safe place



6. Print out this checklist of healing activities.

This is just a reminder list and you should only do what you are ready to do. You are in control of your healing.


and finally...

7. Learn that it was not your fault.

The first thing you should know if you were raped or sexually assaulted is that: Rape is never the victim's fault.



"The thematic structure of a woman's recovery from rape comprises 3 main themes: reaching out, reframing the rape, and redefining the self" (Smith & Kelly, 2001). These themes are covered by the RAINN hotline for reaching out, therapy (cognitive behavioral as a part of talk therapy) for reframing the rape and support groups for redefining the self. By redefining the self what is meant is redefining normal. If between 1 in 4 and 1 in 6 women will be assaulted within their lifetimes then being a survivor IS normal.

Smith, M. & Kelly, L. (2001). The journey of recovery after a rape experience. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 2(4), Jun pp. 337-352. link


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