The Effects of Sexual Violence
The long-term effects of sexual violence (whether that is childhood sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape etc.) can include many emotional, psychological and physical conditions. The experience of sexual assault or abuse at any age and whether male or female can have devastating effects on every aspect of a person’s being and life – on their mind, their body, their behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
The following list includes some of the effects now being recognised and acknowledged as the consequences of sexual violence on many victims and survivors. The Survivors Trust wants to stress that it is not inevitable that all victims will suffer from all effects – the mix, severity and complexity is a unique experience for each individual. If you are struggling with the effects of sexual violence or abuse, call our helpline or find support in your area.
You can also visit The Survivors Trust Resources site to access a wealth of information about the effects trauma and access a wide range of self-help resources, practical tips and survivor videos to help you navigate the impacts of trauma.
Know that what happened to you was not normal or ok, but your reactions are.
You are not alone and you are not to blame.
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Fear, distrust
- Sadness or anger
- Isolation or loneliness
- Lack of control
- Shock, disbelief
- Flashbacks and Nightmares
- Irritability and outbursts of anger
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep Problems
- Alcohol Misuse and dependence
- Self-injury and self harming behaviour
- Sexual problems
- Transient psychotic episodes
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Dissociative Identity disorder
- Somatisation – Emotional distress experienced as physical pain
- Confusion about sexuality
- Parenting Problems
- Relationship Problems
If you are a victim or survivor of sexual violence, rape or childhood sexual abuse, the thought that you may be affected in any of the above ways may be frightening and daunting. Member agencies of The Survivors Trust have the professional expertise and empathic understanding necessary to help survivors meet the challenges and difficulties they are experiencing as a result of abuse or rape.
Remember you have a right to be safe and to choose what happens to you. We are determined to ensure that all survivors have access to appropriate counselling, support and advice so that they can reclaim their lives and obtain the justice they deserve.
If you are currently supporting a survivor of sexual violence, here are some useful tips.