Signs of Sexual Violence
A victim or survivor of sexual violence may experience a variety of physical, behavioural and emotional signs. These are all important and should be taken seriously.
Often victims of sexual violence have difficulty trusting others and have trouble maintaining relationships with friends and family members after an assault. They may also suffer from depression and anger outbursts.
It is also common for survivors to experience feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings can be very difficult to deal with and can even lead to self-hatred.
There are some things you can do if you think someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, but it is not always as simple as telling them to “stop being a bad person”. In some cases, the perpetrator may be aware of the impact of their actions and will be willing to work with you to help them make a positive change.
You can also help someone who has been abused by ensuring they have a safe space where they can talk about it without feeling judged or criticized. This can be done in a number of ways, including arranging for them to see a counsellor, GP or youth worker.
It is important to understand that a person’s behaviour and the type of physical violence they have experienced can be affected by their gender, social background, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The more these factors are present, the higher the risk of violence against women is.
For example, it is thought that people who live in patriarchal cultures (cultures where a man’s power and authority is greater than that of a woman) are more likely to experience sexual violence. In these situations, it is often a sign of an underlying cultural problem with sex roles and gender expectations.
Sometimes, a perpetrator may use force or threats to convince their victim to consent. They may threaten to hurt them if they don’t agree. They might slam their hands on their body, punch or kick them or hit them with objects like a car.
In some instances, a perpetrator may use drugs to make their victim unable to resist. They might also hypnotise or control their victim’s body to get them to do things they don’t want to do.
Some types of sexual violence don’t leave visible physical injuries and they can be harder to spot than other forms of abuse. These include rape, where the perpetrator can use coercion and threat to control their victim.
Other forms of sexual violence are not usually as physically violent but can still have an impact on a person’s mental health. These can include flashbacks or memories of the assault, low self-esteem, poor self-image and anxiety.
They can also cause pain, fertility problems and sexual dysfunction. These can be very challenging to deal with and it is important to seek help.
It is also important to remember that there is no one who deserves to be raped or assaulted – it doesn’t matter who the perpetrator was, what they did, or where they were from – it is NEVER their fault.