You might feel like you’re under a lot of pressure not to tell. If you were assaulted by a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, your friends might want you to keep quiet so no one gets in trouble. If the person who assaulted you is a member of your family, you may be getting pressure to keep it quiet and not make waves. Maybe you’re worried that telling will break up your family.
These are all understandable fears and worries. BUT … You have been hurt and you need help to stop it. The person who hurt you is responsible for what they did, not you. You may be worried about other people or concerned about protecting them, but right now your needs are more important than anything or anyone else.
It's up to you to work out who to tell.
I've decided not to tell... the authorities
You can usually choose whether or not you want to formally report a sexual assault or take legal action. There are some situations where this decision might be made by your guardian/parent/school. You don't have to formally report an assault to see a sexual assault counsellor and get support.
I've decided not to tell ...my family or friends
Talking about your feelings with someone you trust can be helpful. Dealing with this on your own might be a bit too full-on so talking it over with a counsellor would be a better option. You can chat to your counsellor about your feelings and discuss your options.
I've decided not to tell ...anyone
There might be many reasons why you feel you don’t want to tell anyone you've been sexually assaulted. However it is really important that, if you are injured, you get medical care as soon as possible. If you aren't visibly hurt, it is advisable to see a doctor because you may have things wrong that you can't see right now, e.g. pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection. You can always tell the doctor you had unprotected sex if you don’t want them to know you have been assaulted. Dealing with this on your own is not recommended. The person who is hurting you might not stop unless you get help from someone else, and dealing with the emotions and feelings on your own can be full on and very lonely. You do not deserve this and it’s not fair to be dealing with it on your own.
Many people who decide not to tell anyone are hoping that if they don't think about it, talk about it or do anything about it then pretty soon it will just go away and be like it never happened. Sexual assault is a big deal and effects people in many ways. There is nothing wrong with wanting to "carry on as normal", but this is very hard to do and doesn’t really work well. You might go through a range of emotions like depression, fear, loss of confidence, or experience nightmares and flashbacks which might last for quite some time. Take some time out, and try not to expect too much of yourself.
What most survivors find really helpful is information about what they might be feeling, their fears, ways to cope, and all kinds of other things. A great place to start is at the secasa website.
Remember: nothing is so bad that you cannot tell a counsellor about it.