Understanding the Impact of Sexual Violence
Sexual violence has a significant impact on children, adults, men, women, and the people who care about them. Survivors of sexual assault and abuse may have many different reactions and feelings including fear, anger, shame, guilt, self-blame, and depression. They also may have physical impacts such as injuries and health concerns like sexually transmitted infections or even cancer. They can have emotional and social impacts such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and difficulty trusting others. They also can have financial impacts from medical and other costs resulting from the crime.
Regardless of how the crime is committed, rape and sexual assault are never justified. No one deserves or asks for sexual violence to happen, including young children. While there are a lot of myths that surround sexual violence, such as it only happening at parties or that it’s the fault of the victim, the truth is that anyone can be a victim of sexual assault or abuse.
While it’s not always possible to know when a loved one will be subjected to sexual violence, it is important that we pay attention and look out for warning signs. These warning signs can include changes in a person’s behavior or appearance, complaints about someone not treating them well, withdrawal from friends and family, or avoiding certain people and activities that they normally enjoy. They could start exhibiting sexually inappropriate behaviors or using inappropriate language, have trouble sleeping, have nightmares, or become more aggressive or clingy. They might have unexplained bruises or other injuries. They could also start refusing to wear condoms or tell their partner where they are going or when they will be home. They may even begin to avoid public places and have a change in appetite.
It is important to remember that not all victims will talk about their experience with the person who has abused them. If they do, it is important that they feel safe and supported when talking. It is important to let them share what they want and need to at their own pace, and not to put pressure on them to talk about the assault or rape.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done on understanding sexual violence. More research is needed on how the different factors relate to each other and what is needed to help individuals who are prone to offending behavior. There is also a need for more openness and collaboration among researchers with different theories. It is critical that we all work together to make our society safer.
There are things that we can all do to make our communities and workplaces safer. This includes being alert to strangers around us and making sure that we can lock our doors or use the locks on our windows. We can also attend large parties with friends and agree to look out for each other and leave together, or take a risk reduction class such as the RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) course offered by the Sexual Assault Prevention Initiative in Mt Vernon.