EFFECTS OF SEXUAL VICTIMIZATION Sexual assault crosses all barriers, including age, race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, and geographic location. While every survivor of sexual assault is unique, there are many common responses and effects to being assaulted. Not every survivor will experience all of these effects and may demonstrate responses to these effects in a variety of ways. Some survivors may initially respond in an "expressive" manner, which can include sobbing, shaking, hyperventilating, and displaying strong or intense emotional responses; while other survivors may respond in a "controlled" manner, which can include detachment, numbing, and very little expression of emotions.
Shock, disbelief, disorganized thinking, difficulty remembering all parts of the assault
Crying, emotional numbness, moods or emotions shift quickly
Physical soreness, nausea, stomach or pelvic pain, loss of appetite, shaking, headaches
Fear, hyper vigilance, jumpiness, restlessness
Anxiety, anger, irritability, depression
Difficulty sleeping, eating, concentrating, and performing normal tasks
Nightmares, flashbacks, preoccupation with thoughts and feelings about the assault
Attempting to avoid people, places & activities that trigger memories of the assault
ON-GOING OR PERSISTENT EFFECTS:
Survivor moves out of shock and attempts to "get back to normal" or "move on"
Nightmares, flashbacks & panic attacks may persist and even worsen
Emotional flooding alternating with emotional numbing
Inability to withstand normal life stressors, social isolation
Survivors may develop longer-term and more complicated symptoms over time, including depression, suicidal thoughts and/or actions, anxiety, addictions and compulsions, lack of trust in relationships, difficulty with intimacy, sexual acting out or promiscuity, low self-esteem