How to Stop Sexual Violence

sexual violence

Sexual violence can be a devastating experience for victims. It can affect all aspects of their lives – physical, emotional and psychological. It can lead to serious medical issues such as sexually transmitted diseases, and a range of behavioral problems such as depression or anxiety. It can also have a major impact on their family and social life. The effects can last for a long time, especially when the violence has occurred in childhood.

The majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, which is called acquaintance rape or intimate partner rape. Some perpetrators use force to coerce victims into non-consensual sex, such as by threatening to harm or hurt their families. Others will threaten to break up with a victim if they don’t have sex with them. Some victims may be made to take pornographic pictures or videos for money or to perform sexual acts on film without their consent. Often, this is called sex trafficking or sexual exploitation.

There are many reasons for sexual violence, including the gender stereotypes and power imbalances that can exist between men and women in some cultures. For example, men from sexually conservative cultures may misinterpret women’s platonic interest as sexual in nature and initiate sexual violence against them. Additionally, some cultures have a culture of victim-blaming that may contribute to sexual violence against women.

People who experience sexual violence are at high risk for serious medical, psychiatric and emotional consequences – including trauma, infertility, depression and anxiety. In addition, victims can have a number of difficulties with their daily functioning, such as difficulty sleeping or eating, flashbacks or hyper-sexuality and sexual or relationship problems. Survivors are often ostracized by their family, friends and communities. This can lead to isolation, lack of trust and even loss of a sense of identity.

Sexual violence disproportionately impacts some groups, such as women and racial or ethnic minority populations. Some victims are more vulnerable because of their age, sexual orientation or disability. Additionally, poverty is a contributing factor to sexual violence because it can make meeting basic needs more challenging. It can also cause victims to depend on others for financial or housing assistance which can put them at higher risk for sexual assault.

There are several things that you can do to help prevent sexual violence. Primary prevention includes approaches that can be taken BEFORE violence happens, such as educating youth about healthy relationships and healthy sexuality and developing school or workplace programs to promote these behaviors. It can also include teaching a community how to respond appropriately to reports of harassment or assault.

As a citizen, you can help reduce the prevalence of sexual violence by speaking out against it. You can also support victims of sexual assault by being available to talk, offering safe places to meet and providing access to resources such as hotlines and sexual violence awareness/prevention organizations. You can help create a safer community by volunteering at local organizations that serve sexual assault victims and advocating for safe neighborhoods, schools and work places. Finally, you can practice personal safety by knowing what to do if you feel unsafe and by trusting your instincts.