How Sexual Violence Affects Victims

sexual violence

Sexual violence is a serious crime that can have a devastating impact on victims. Survivors may experience many different reactions such as depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Sexual assault is not something that anyone should be forced to endure or feel alone in dealing with.

Sexual assault affects people of all ages, gender identities, socio-economic status and religion. It can happen to infants, adults in later life, women and men and people who define themselves as LGBTQIA+, as well as those with disabilities.

Perpetrators use a variety of motives when they commit sexual assault. Some believe they are entitled to sex and sexual privileges or that they need the power and control it provides them with. Others may be influenced by the beliefs, desires and values of those around them such as sexism or racism.

Despite the fact that many perpetrators are friends or family of the victim, they can often be identified and prosecuted based on their behavior toward others. A major issue in sex crimes is the failure of bystanders to take action. People who witness or experience sexual violence are sometimes intimidated by the perpetrator, afraid of hurting the offender’s feelings, or they believe it is not their responsibility to intervene and stop the abuse.

Victims of sexual assault may develop PTSD, which can include nightmares and flashbacks, or struggle with depression and anxiety. They can also lose interest in romantic relationships or have difficulty forming friendships. They may have long-term eating disorders and digestive problems or find it difficult to stay enrolled in school because they fear being assaulted again.

College students who are victims of sexual assault drop out at higher rates than those who do not experience this traumatic event. They can have difficulty focusing in class, getting along with their peers and feeling safe on campus.

Survivors can experience a variety of physical effects, including abdominal pain, headaches, trouble sleeping and sexual dysfunction such as low sperm count or vaginal discharge. Sexually transmitted diseases can also be present in the body of survivors.

It is important to understand that everyone reacts differently and that they must heal at their own pace. It is important to let them know you are available for them if they want to talk about the assault. When they do decide to talk, it is important to listen and be a good listener. Survivors must also be reminded that they cannot be blamed for their attacker’s actions.

You can help end sexual violence by supporting community efforts to prevent it. Advocate for consent and boundaries to be taught in schools, support laws that hold perpetrators accountable and speak out about the importance of reporting sexual assault to authorities. Donate to a local advocacy center to support survivors and to educate the community about prevention. Join a local movement to raise awareness by creating posters and promoting events on social media. You can also get involved by contacting your legislators and asking them to support legislation that supports survivors and holds perpetrators accountable.