When you hear the term “sexual violence,” it may bring forth images of a stranger assaulting someone in an isolated setting. Although this type of assault can and does happen, it’s just one of the many ways a person may be subjected to sexual abuse. The effects of sexual violence can permeate every aspect of a survivor’s life, and it’s crucial to be able to recognize its influence. Here is more on the effects of sexual violence.
For a survivor, processing the trauma of sexual violence may take years. Further, the ways in which a person may express their emotions in response to this type of experience can vary significantly. Some individuals may not be ready to fully acknowledge what has occurred, while others may begin processing their reactions immediately. There is no such thing as a “normal” response to sexual violence. Every person is different, and how trauma manifests and impacts someone’s life will depend on the individual.
Sexual Violence can Interfere with Daily Functioning
For some survivors, memories of the assault or abuse may interfere with their ability to sleep, function at school or work, or interact with others in their daily life. Sexual violence trauma can also be exhibited through mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. In more severe cases, a person’s reactions may involve self-abusive behavior or making suicidal gestures or ideations.
If you or someone you love is experiencing emotional or mental health issues in response to sexual trauma, you should contact a therapeutic professional as soon as possible to discuss your concerns. Don’t wait to get the help you or your loved one deserves and needs.
Sexual Violence May Cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
When someone is subjected to sexual violence, their body and mind experience extreme trauma that can impact the way their brain processes information. In some cases, a sexual violence survivor may develop a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When people have PTSD, they can re-experience a traumatic event when triggered by certain stimuli. For example, a survivor may be in a safe place, then hear a sound or detect a specific scent that causes them to recall their experience. When symptomatic, someone with PTSD may immediately react as if they are re-living the abusive experience.
Without treatment, PTSD symptoms can have a debilitating impact on a person’s life. Someone with this condition may not be able to predict or control their reactions which can, in turn, cause them to have significant problems maintaining employment and personal relationships. Often, a person who has PTSD will require treatment to control their symptoms. If you or someone you love is experiencing sexual violence-related PTSD symptoms, it’s vital that you seek help from a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible.
Sexual Violence Can Lead to Addiction and Substance Abuse
When a person experiences sexual violence, they may react by doing all they can to block out memories of their experience. For some survivors, this may involve turning to drugs, alcohol, or other addictions, to avoid processing the pain of what they have endured. Substance abuse and other addictive behaviors may provide a temporary means for survivors to numb themselves from the pain of what they went through and how they feel now.
However, these are temporary measures that will not address the underlying emotions and issues that led to the individual’s addiction and use. Further, addiction and substance abuse can have other destructive consequences. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, don’t hesitate to seek help from an addiction professional or treatment and support organization.
Sexual Violence Can Negatively Impact a Survivor’s Self-Esteem
When a person is subjected to sexual violence, they often believe they are in some way to blame for what happened. Although this reaction may seem illogical, it’s a common occurrence, especially when a survivor feels shame. Under these conditions, how the individual is thinking about their experience may cause them to develop issues with low self-esteem.
Sexual violence can occur between intimate partners, family members, co-workers, educators and students, police officers and civilians, and others. For some survivors, their circumstances may result in them being exposed to their abuser on an ongoing basis. When survivors are abused in these contexts, it can reinforce their feelings of low self-worth and self-blame.
Sexual Violence Can Negatively Impact Interpersonal Relationships
Recovering from sexual violence often requires years of introspection and therapy. Survivors will be changed by their experience, and their loved ones may not understand their pain or know how to support them. Sometimes, interpersonal relationships can suffer or end under these conditions. Additionally, being assaulted or abused can cause a survivor to develop strong feelings of mistrust that cause them to create barriers between themselves and others.
For a survivor, the aftermath of sexual violence can involve various responses to the trauma they have experienced. When left unaddressed, the effects of sexual violence can derail a survivor’s life and impair their ability to function and form meaningful relationships with others. Knowing how this form of trauma can manifest in a survivor’s life may help the survivor and their loved ones identify the cause when these and other effects of sexual violence are present.
Getting Help and Talking to Others About Your Trauma
If you believe sexual violence is affecting your life, you may benefit from talking with a trained therapist or survivor support group. If you don’t want to talk with these individuals, it may help to reach out to a trusted friend or loved one. Sometimes, seeking support from someone outside the situation can provide important insights that may help you gain much-needed perspective.
Bonina & Bonina Can Help
At Bonina & Bonina, we understand how difficult it can be to talk about sexual violence trauma. We are here to support you and provide a safe space to discuss your experience. The attorneys at Bonina & Bonina understand how sexual violence can impact a survivor’s life. Not only are they compassionate and caring, but both partners have also received training on working with trauma victims. They are here to listen to your story and help you determine the best avenue to take with your claim.
Contact an Experienced Sexual Violence Injury Attorney
If you’ve been the victim of rape, sexual abuse, or other sexual violence, you want an experienced and compassionate attorney on your side. Bonina & Bonina, P.C. understand the importance of helping sexual violence survivors get the help they need for their trauma. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se Habla español.