Coping With the Aftereffects of Sexual Violence
Sexual violence is any kind of physical or sexual act that takes place without the victim’s consent. It can be anything from child sexual abuse to rape and assault.
It is important to know that no one deserves sexual violence, whether it be from a family member, co-worker or partner. It is also important to remember that everyone reacts to trauma and abuse in different ways.
Survivors of sexual violence often feel guilty, ashamed or angry about their experience. These feelings can lead to self-destructive behavior and increased risk for depression, alcohol or drug use and other health problems.
Many victims of sexual violence find that they cannot stop thinking about what happened to them, even if they try to block the memories. They may have nightmares and fantasies about what it was like to be in the traumatic situation. They may also have thoughts about how they would have done differently if they had known the person who assaulted them was sexually abusive or a predator.
These feelings can be difficult to accept or understand. But they are normal and can be very helpful for survivors of sexual violence to work through.
Male survivors of sexual violence can have an especially hard time accepting their experiences and coping with the aftermath. They may have a difficult time feeling like they are worthy of love and respect or that they can trust others again. Some men even develop suicidal thoughts or behaviors after sexual assault.
They can be reluctant to report the incident to police or other authorities because they are afraid of being blamed or punished for their actions. These concerns may prevent them from telling anyone about their assault, which is critical if they are going to get the help they need.
In addition, some gay men who have been sexually assaulted can suffer from internal conflicts about their sexuality. They may think they “deserved it” or that their sexual orientation made them vulnerable to the attack. Those who support them might have to explain that the attacker was not a sexual predator, but someone who wanted to harm them and that it is their own responsibility to fight back against sexual violence.
This type of self-blame and resentment can have a negative effect on relationships with their families, friends and even their professional careers. They may be hesitant to go out with their partners and they may have a harder time getting jobs because they are too afraid of being discriminated against or harassed.
The perpetrators of sexual violence are not to blame, but the laws and society’s norms play a role in creating conditions for violence against women and girls. These include rigid “traditional” gender roles, inequality of men and women and the power imbalances that are present within many societies.
These factors make women and girls especially vulnerable to sexual violence. They can include those who are internally displaced, widows, female heads of households, detainees or those who have been involved in armed conflict.