Seeking counselling after sexual violence

Working with an experienced counsellor after sexual violence or harassment is an important step in accepting the event and being able to move on with your life.


How can counselling help?

A counsellor who has specific training in the impact of sexual abuse, dissociative identity disorder and rape crisis work is in a really good position to understand your experience and support you to move on with your life. 

Building a relationship with trust

Finding a counsellor you can trust is key to enabling you to share your experiences. By learning to trust a counsellor, those skills learnt can be transferred to the relationships with people in your life. Look for someone who is non-judgemental, reliable, and committed to the appointment they have made with you. Look for testimonials from previous clients as evidence of their practice, often counsellors recommended have a good reputation.

Learning skills to help you cope

The impact of sexual harassment and violence can leave people with flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, dissociation, depression, eating disorders, low self-confidence, low self-worth, hyper-vigilance, and body conditions among other symptoms. A skilled counsellor can offer techniques you can try to alleviate these symptoms. For example, grounding techniques.

Creating a safe place

Finding a place where you feel safe is essential for you to feel calm and with the help of your counsellor, this feeling can be recreated in your own home. The room doesn't have to be the most luxurious but knowing no one else will enter, the room is private, comfortable and safe creates security.

Working within your window of tolerance

When you are talking about your experiences, the counsellor will need to help you keep within your window of tolerance to avoid you becoming re-traumatised. Using specific techniques, the counsellor can help you remain in a space where you can talk without re-traumatising yourself. Ask the counsellor if they are aware of this.

Sharing your story

You do not have to go into details if you don't want to, it is your choice what you share. If you feel ready to share your experience, having a non-judgemental response will allow you to feel accepted and your story can be validated by a person who is objective. Many people feel shame after being sexually assaulted or harassed and, by sharing their feelings, a sense of relief can be gained. They realise they will not be rejected because of what has happened.


Remember, it is your choice if you decide to make a formal complaint to the police. You should not feel pressured into reporting the incident. If you do decide to report it, your experienced counsellor can help you understand the process and your rights within it.

How to find help

You can use the Counselling Directory to find the support you need. All professionals listed on this website are asked to provide evidence of professional body membership before they can be listed, so you can be sure of contacting a credible professional.

To start your therapy journey, use the search tool to find a counsellor today.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22
Written by Nicola Griffiths, Counsellor MBACP Social Worker DIPSW BAHons social studies
Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22

My background is with people who have experienced trauma, childhood abuse, domestic violence, depression and anxiety. I have an interest in dissociative identity disorder. I was a children and families social worker and I worked on the leaving care team. Dip in therapeutic counselling, BA Hons in applied social studies, Dip in social work, NNEB.

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