trauma is defined as an event during which the person experienced, witnessed or was confronted with a situation in which they could have been hurt by another individual through sexual means. Sexual violence includes exactly this: Sexual abuse, Sexual assault/violence, and sexual molestation. Sexual assault is defined as unwanted sexual contact between individuals regardless of gender, whereas sexual violence refers to physical assaults or physical contact which are sexual in nature.
Sexual violence can occur without actual physical force if the victim is forced to engage in a sex act through verbal coercion or manipulation, or if the victim is incapable of giving consent. Sexual assault comprises a range of offenses, including rape and attempted rape. Sexual abuse is defined as one person using a position of power over another in order to force that other person into sexual activity.
The range of assault includes, but is not limited to: – Forcing a person to touch one’s own body sexually or another person’s body
– Forced masturbation of the perpetrator by the victim, forced sexual touching by the victim, forcing a finger or any object into any bodily orifice (including forcing oral sex on someone), -Making a person undress without his/her permission
– Inserting objects or fingers into the genital area or anus of another, whether by one’s own hand or through the use of an object or other means. The focus is not only on penetration but rather any behavior that forces, coerces, manipulates, or controls another human being through sexual acts.
Unfortunately, at least 300,000 people are victims of sexual assaults in the United States each year. It’s believed that the figure is higher as many other assaults are unreported.
Being more susceptible to depression—a clinical condition of sadness, hopelessness, and lethargy that persists for weeks—are some of the psychological consequences. Victims of sexual abuse are more likely to experience depression, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
These feelings or despair can get in the way of enjoying your life or functioning effectively as a parent.
Understanding the Cycle of Sexual Trauma
Understanding how sexual trauma affects survivors is an important step in getting beyond its effects. Here are some of the most common emotions victims feel when they have been assaulted in a sexual manner:
Suffering from anxiety, depression or other psychological challenges does not mean you are weak. It means that you are very strong . Trauma is an illness, just like cancer or any other illness. And like other chronic illnesses, it can be managed and controlled but not cured.
When trauma occurs (and sometimes even if it doesn’t), victims may suffer from anxiety or depression that can lead to behavior changes or difficulties in relationships with others. Survivors may feel constantly on guard, as if danger lurks around every corner. Other changes that can indicate an increased vulnerability to triggers or a negative coping style include:
Difficulty concentrating and staying focused Difficulty sleeping without nightmares or intrusive memories Flashbacks and other dissociative responses Seeing yourself as powerless, vulnerable and inferior Negative self-concept based on the belief that you are dirty and damaged “Suicidal ideation” or thoughts of harming yourself
These overwhelming feelings can lead to:
Self-destructive behaviors – such as substance abuse, self-mutilation, eating disorders, and risky sexual behavior – intended to avoid future danger
Feelings of fear and helplessness that may trigger intense emotions or physical reactions – such as a racing heart or panic attacks – at unexpected times and in safe places
Difficulty establishing close relationships with family, friends, coworkers or others because of a lack of trust and a fear of betrayal
Inability to work through feelings of anger and rage toward the assailant(s) that can lead to feelings of guilt for not being able to stop the assault
Self-blame and a negative self-concept for not stopping the assaults or not fighting back
Flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and physical distress when around items – such as smells, images or sounds – that are reminders of the sexual trauma.
Conclusion: Sexual trauma can have a lasting effect on someone’s mental and physical health. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of sexual violence, please do not hesitate to contact our doctors today for help.