Sleep Disruption

Impacts and Effects of Sexual Assault

Sleep Disruption

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre

Sexual assault can affect your sleep patterns. In order to sleep properly, you need to feel safe and secure. When you have been assaulted, your ability to trust and feel safe can be effected, which can result in insomnia of fitful sleep.


Constantly thinking about what happened, being fearful of your safety, worrying about what other people think or concern about the future can also keep you awake at night. Sleep is also a time where the brain’s normal defenses are weakened. This means you can experience nightmares which hold the same emotions you felt at the time of being assaulted. Nightmares can occur if you are living in fear of being assaulted again.


Any disruption to sleep can affect your ability to function during the day, it can cause you to become lethargic, have poor concentration, irritable and anxious. It can also reduce your ability to cope with other stresses you are trying to manage.


Sleep disruption is experienced by almost all survivors of sexual assault and abuse, it is a normal reaction to trauma, and with time and support, these impacts can be mitigated. If you are struggling with sleep disruption, you can speak with your counsellor or ring the CRCC crisis line on 02 6247 2525 to discuss some strategies that assist in creating more internal and external safety as well as strategies to increase sleep and help manage the impacts which are causing the disrupted sleep.