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Effects of Rape and Sexual Assault

Effects of Rape and Sexual Assault

In the aftermath of a sexual assault or rape, survivors can face extremely difficult and painful emotions and experiences. Every survivor responds to traumatic events in their own way. The effects of the trauma can be short-term or last long after the sexual assault or rape.

If a survivor’s reactions do not match common responses—such as no physical injury—it does not mean what happened was not sexual abuse or assault. No one is alone in their healing process. We are here to help along the restorative pathway to healing.

What are common physical effects of sexual assault and rape?

  • Bruising
  • Bleeding (vaginal or anal)
  • Difficulty walking
  • Soreness
  • Broken or dislocated bones
  • Sexually transmitted infections and diseases
  • Pregnancy

What are common mental effects of sexual assault and rape?

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts
  • Depression, including prolonged sadness, feelings of hopelessness, unexplained crying, weight loss or gain, loss of energy or interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Dissociation, including not being able to focus on work or on schoolwork, as well as not feeling present in everyday situations

What are common emotional effects of sexual assault and rape?

  • Changes in trusting others
  • Anger and blame
  • Shock
  • Numbness
  • Loss of control
  • Disorientation
  • Helplessness
  • Sense of vulnerability
  • Fear
  • Self-blame/guilt for “allowing” the crime to happen
  • Feeling that these reactions are a sign of weakness

What else could someone experience after a sexual assault or rape?

Other circumstances can develop for a survivor after being sexual assaulted or raped. A survivor may develop a negative outlook and feel “damaged” or unworthy of a better life. Drug or alcohol abuse may also become an issue as a way to cope with the overwhelming feelings. Women may also have trouble with their menstrual cycle and fertility. In addition, survivors may experience:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle tension
  • Involuntary shaking
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Sexual dysfunction
Need Help?

We are here to listen and work together to support you in any way we can. Importantly, to help you bring the offender to justice and make sure you, and other people in a similar situation, are kept safe.

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