For anyone that has been victim to sexual abuse and still suffering from severe post effects please know you are not alone. Sexual assault is a very personal and self destructive experience which can have ongoing emotional, psychological and physical effects. As every person is different, everyone has their own way to deal with things however we aim to explain the most common responses experienced by victims of sexual assault.
DENIAL – following the initial shock of a sexual abuse incident, it is ordinary for victims to deny to themselves or others that the event has occurred. This is very normal as victims may wish to restrain the memory and aspire to recover the constancy in their lives.
INSOMNIA – victims of sexual violence are often prone to nightmares and sleepless nights in which they may relive the experience or similar occurrences. It is very common for a victims subconscious keep thinking about what has happened and replaying the incident.
FLASHBACKS – similar to nightmares, many victims have strong memories of the incident which are in many cases so vivid they feel they are reliving the experience.
EMOTIONAL NUMBNESS – after a traumatic occurrence in which a victim has experienced loss of control and a sense of helplessness it is normal but them to feel weak and unemotional. This is dangerous and may be interpreted wrong by others as it comes across that they are composed and in control of the situation.
SELF BLAME – it is extremely common for victims to believe the incident was their own fault and that the situation could have been avoided if they had acted differently. This is particularly related to the issue of victim blaming and a myth surrounding sexual assault that it is always the victims fault.
SHAME – victims commonly feel embarrassing by what has happened and therefore do not want to speak out about it. This can result in underreporting of the issue as well as difficulties for victims in future relationships and situations.
LOSS OF CONFIDENCE – after a sexual violence incident, it is normal for a victim to feel degraded and humiliated. This can result in a lack of confidence especially sexual confident leading to them finding it difficult to establish a healthy sexual relationship in the future.
FEAR AND HOSTILITY – sexual abuse is a scary and distressing experience therefore victims may gain a fear of being by themselves. It is also very common for victims to develop a sense of fear or hostility towards the gender of their offender.
DEPRESSION – it is very common that sexual assault can lead to depression in forms of fear, anxiety or self hatred. Many victims find it hard to cope with the pressures and effects following a sexual assault incident and therefore become depressed.
It is important for all sexual assault victims to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE and THERE IS ALWAYS HELP. It is important for victims to speak out and for society to be aware of the issue of sexual abuse in order for other victims to overcome their post experience effects.