How to Prevent Sexual Violence

sexual violence

Sexual violence (SV) affects men, women, and gender-diverse people of all ages, cultures, and circumstances. But it’s especially dangerous for vulnerable people, including women and girls with disabilities, Indigenous communities, and people who live in poverty.

SV is any kind of nonconsensual sexual activity or abusive sexual contact. It can also include verbal abuse and threats of sex or violence. The impact of sexual violence can last a long time, both physically and emotionally. Survivors can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, and it’s common for them to avoid situations or conversations that remind them of the assault.

It can be very hard for victims to talk about their experience because of the shame and guilt they feel. But it’s important to remember that no one is to blame for an assault, no matter who they are or what they did. Sexual violence is never okay, and it’s never a victim’s fault.

Survivors often feel like they’re the only ones who have experienced sexual violence, but it is a worldwide problem. Women, girls, and gender-diverse people are more at risk of sexual violence than the general population. Various factors increase their risk, including discrimination, poverty, lack of housing, and access to health services.

The perpetrators of sexual assault can be strangers, acquaintances, friends, family, and partners. In many cases, sexual assaults occur when a person is alone and unsupervised, such as when they’re at home, in a car, at school or work. But they can also happen in public places and during social activities.

It’s also important to know the warning signs of a sexual assault so that you can watch out for them in others. Survivors may withdraw from friendships and other activities, they may have trouble trusting others, and they might exhibit unusual physical symptoms such as unexplained bruises or cuts.

Another factor that increases the risk of sexual violence is cultural context. Studies have found that men from sexually conservative cultures may misinterpret platonic behaviors and interests in women from sexually open cultures as sexual in nature, leading to sexual violence.

The first thing to do is support the survivor by letting them decide how they want to handle the situation and what information they want to share with others. It’s normal for victims and survivors to feel a lot of emotions, from denial to grief and anger. And some people can even experience flashbacks and memories of the assault. It’s important for victims and survivors to be able to talk about these feelings with a friend or family member, or with a professional such as a doctor, GP, counsellor or youth worker. It’s also a good idea to try and find out more about local sexual assault services in your area, so that you can help them get the help they need. You can also book a text-based session with a ReachOut PeerChat volunteer, who’s trained to listen and understand your experiences.