Understanding Your Experience

Sexual assault is a crime of violence, not sex. You did not bring this upon yourself and it is not your fault. Surviving a sexual assault can be a traumatic experience, and reactions can be varied, in time and in kind. It’s important to be attentive to your own, individual experience, and to understand that there is no right way to react. We can help guide you in understanding your experience and help support you at any and all stages of the process.

To talk more about your experience and to get support, call the Wellness Exchange Hotline at (212) 443-9999 anytime to speak with a counselor. Your conversations with Wellness Exchange counselors are confidential, so you can ask any questions you have. We also have established local phone numbers to reach the Wellness Exchange around the world — whether you are in NYU Abu Dhabi, NYU Shanghai, or at an NYU global site.

I was sexually assaulted in the past. What can I do?

Sexual assault, no matter when it happens, can change your life. It can change your view of yourself and others. You may experience changes in your sleeping and eating patterns. You may have nightmares or flashbacks about the assault. You may be afraid of being alone, or fear being in crowds. Support and help are available for you.

You can call the Wellness Exchange 24-hour Support Line at (212) 443-9999 to talk about your experience. Counseling is also available at Counseling and Wellness Services by appointment. To speak with a counselor without an appointment, you may visit our walk-in service.

I don't know what to call my experience, but I don't feel comfortable with a sexual encounter I had.

If you've had a sexual encounter that left you feeling uncomfortable or violated, but you are not quite sure what to call it, there are people available to listen and support you. The following are such resources:

The NYU Wellness Exchange
(212) 443-9999  |  wellness.exchange@nyu.edu
Speak with a counselor — you don't have to give your name. We can connect you with NYU resources as well as resources and referrals in the community.

Counseling and Wellness Services
(212) 998-4780  |  nyu.edu/counseling
Call to access NYU’s short-term counseling, group counseling, and psychiatry. Want to just stop by and speak with someone without an appointment? You can visit our walk-in clinic at the Student Health Center. Want to discuss your feelings in a group setting? Click here to find a group.

I'm feeling so many different emotions about this experience. Is this normal?

Reactions to a traumatic experience such as sexual assault vary from person to person. The following are examples of both physical and emotional reactions that a survivor might experience.

Physical Reactions:

  • Aches and Pains: headaches, backaches, stomach aches
  • Sudden sweating, heart palpitations
  • Changes in sleep patterns, appetite, interest in sex
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Easily startled by noises or unexpected touch
  • More susceptible to colds and illness


Emotional Reactions:

  • Shock
  • Disbelief
  • Embarrassment
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Denial
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Self-Blame
  • Concern for the rapist
  • Lack of concentration resulting in academic difficulties