The Sexual Health Center

How Does Sexual Assault Affect Mental Health? Explored!

Sexual assault tends to affect the mental health of people who suffer it in a multitude of ways that can contribute to uncontrolled trauma for years.

It has been reported that childhood sexual assault would lead to both psychological and physiological stress in an individual’s state of mind.

It would be hard for those to imagine the hardships and agony that children who were victims of sexual assault might have gone through.

In women, the sexual assault would be as much severe with the distinction that being an adult they are fully aware of the implications of it.

In this article, we would discuss the common reactions and symptoms of sexual assault and the importance of seeking professional help and support when faced with it.

We would also cover the self-care practices for managing mental health for survivors and how the trauma induced by sexual assault can impact the body.

We also aim at providing information regarding the risk of harmful behaviors in sexual assault survivors and some concluding thoughts on the topic. 

Common Reactions And Symptoms

There can be some reactions and symptoms that are most common among sexual assault survivors.

Common Reactions And Symptoms

We would discuss each one of them in detail in this section.

We would integrate the reactions and symptoms shown by both young and adult survivors who have suffered deplorable episodes of sexual assault.

  • Fear
  • Feelings Of Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal
  • Difficulty Sleeping

💦 Fear

Fear is the most common emotion depicted by children toward sexual abuse. They would lose trust in people and may want to have reassurance about everything.

The parents need to give them assurance of their safety. In the case of adults, it would be more of a trust deficiency towards everybody and a general feeling of betrayal.

They would show withdrawal symptoms and tend to isolate themselves from society.

💦 Feelings Of Guilt

Children who may have an undeveloped mental state may not see things from the right perspective and may be rather shocked to have undergone such an ill experience.

They get annoyed often and would be ashamed of opening up their minds to others and in the worst case may find themselves guilty.

For adults, there can be mixed feelings of guilt and helplessness, they feel more offended at times and may be in a state of denial.

💦 Anxiety

Anxiety is much more common in young victims of sexual assault. Mental as well as physical trauma may induce a loss of control and pose a feeling of vulnerability in children.

To overcome this, the guardians need to create situations in which the child feels safer and this can instill confidence in their mind.

The adults may have a hard time dealing with anxiety and may often require medical assistance in dealing with it.

💦 Withdrawal

Withdrawal is another symptom that could be seen in children who have been subject to sexual abuse.

This is due to the fact that they have developed a paranoia about freely interacting with the outside world.

They also see it largely as an escape route to ward off the inexplicable emotions that are hard to cope with.

As far as the adults are concerned they too display emotions akin to the young victims of sexual assault.

💦 Difficulty Sleeping

This could be another common reaction to sexual assault and may need medical intervention at times to resolve the issue.

For adults, much more than a child, rampant sexual abuse may affect sleeping patterns and if left untreated can develop into much more serious health problems.

Fortunately, modern medical science does offer relief in controlling emotions and treating sleeping disorders. 

The list could be never complete as far as sexual assault is concerned. However, the attempt made here is to bring to light the most common reactions and symptoms borne out of sexual assault.  

The Importance Of Seeking Professional Help and Support

It is worth considering seeking professional help and support to counter the bad temptations and emotions that could possibly stem from facing heinous sexual abuse.

Sexual assault survivors regardless of age may benefit immensely from concentrated efforts and knowledgeable inputs given to them by experts in treating the menace.

The survivors would also benefit from the active support and care rendered by friends and family in their process to heal the wounds left behind by the gruesome incident.

Self-Care Practices for Managing Mental Health After Sexual Assault

In this section, we deal with some self-care practices that may help the survivors to recover from the intricacies of the mental state that sexual assault has resulted in.

Experts suggest it would be indeed beneficial to start a new activity that may help to express one’s thoughts and emotions.

Self-Care Practices for Managing Mental Health After Sexual Assault

Another way to get out of the hang is to indulge in therapeutic practices and activities that the survivors enjoy the most.

Physical self-care like undergoing meditation and viewing positive messages could also help the survivors. 

How Trauma Can Impact Body Image and Eating Behaviors

Experts suggest that being subject to traumatic sexual offenses can lead to victims suffering body image problems and developing eating disorders.

It may also sow the seeds for losing concentration and cripple their ability of decision-making.

Children seem to be more susceptible to this unfortunately as they had an ill experience right at the juncture of habit forming in life.

The Risk Of Harmful Behaviors In Sexual Assault Survivors

The risk of harmful behaviors on the part of sexual assault survivors in the future could be a real possibility as they may see their acts as gratifying.

The Risk Of Harmful Behaviors In Sexual Assault Survivors

Children could be more prone to this as the chances are that they would become increasingly sadistic and induce pain and agony in others as compensation for all the bad things that happened to them.

Hopefully, proper medications and time that possess the power to heal wounds, would change them for good.

Read More:-

Is Vaginal Numbness Normal? A Closer Look At Women’s Sexual Health!

Overview Of Sexual Relationships, Including Communication And Consent

Final Thoughts

It is not as easy as it may appear to manage one’s thoughts and emotions after sexual assault says those who experience it firsthand.

It takes a heavy toll on life and may take years of medication and concentrated attempts to improve the mental state of those hapless victims of sexual abuse.

Experts could suggest ways to tackle bad thoughts that cross the survivor’s mind and make a dedicated effort in replenishing their self-esteem. It can be hard to achieve but is not really impossible. 

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