Trust Issues After Sexual Assault: Will I Ever Feel Normal Again?

Photo of a uniformed service member with her head down with an out of focus American flag in the background
Question: 

How can I ever trust men after being sexually assaulted by another soldier who I thought was my friend? I am afraid to go out or to engage even in having a conversation with a man after what happened to me. Will I ever feel like a normal woman again?

Answer: 

Sexual assault is a fundamental violation and it makes sense that it has shaken your trust in men. It also makes sense that when you have PTSD, it feels like all men are dangerous. We know that the man who raped you was dangerous and we also know that not all men are dangerous. With treatment of the PTSD that has resulted from the rape, you can take your life back from PTSD and reset your danger alarms to be able to do the things you want to do again. If you want to be able to be around men, that can be something you work on with your therapist.

Posted on BrainLine August 31, 2021. Reviewed August 31, 2021.

About the author: Sheila A.M. Rauch, PhD, ABPP

Sheila A.M. Rauch, PhD, ABPP, is the Deputy Director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program and Director of Mental Health Research and Program Evaluation at the VA Atlanta Healthcare System. Dr. Rauch has been developing programs, conducting research and providing PTSD and Anxiety Disorders treatment for over 20 years. Her research focuses on examination of mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of PTSD and improving access to effective interventions.

Professional headshot of Dr. Sheila Rauch smiling at the camera, wearing glasses in a royal blue top