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Signs of Abuse

Signs of Abuse

Abuse in a relationship
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Common Reactions to Sexual Assault

Each survivor of sexual assault responds uniquely to the assault, and the recovery process is different for each individual. These reactions may be experienced days, months, or years after an assault. Survivors suffer a great deal of physical and emotional trauma as a result of a sexual assault. Responses to a sexual assault can be immediate or delayed.

The following is a list of reactions to sexual assault. It is not a comprehensive list but rather a sampling of common post-assault symptoms. Survivors can expect to experience some or many physical, emotional, cognitive, or social symptoms listed below:

Physical EffectsEmotional EffectsCognitive EffectsSocial Effects

Changes in eating patterns

Changes in sleeping patterns

Eating disorders

Fatigue

Gastrointestinal Irritability

Headaches

HIV/AIDS

Muscular tension

Nightmares

Physical injuries

Pregnancy

Sexually transmitted diseases

Substance abuse

Soreness

Stress related depression

Immune system responses

Anger

Anxiety

Denial

Depression, sadness

Embarrassment, feeling exposed, humiliated

Fear

Helplessness

Hopelessness

Muscular tension

Mood swings

Numbness

Obsessions/compulsions

Phobias

Sense of disbelief

Sense of unreality

Shame, guilt, self-blame

Vulnerability

Shock

Am I damaged goods?

Am I dirty?

Bad things happen to bad people, good things happen to good people; therefore I must be bad

Confusion

Difficulty concentrating

Flashbacks

I deserved it becauses...If I forget about it, it will go away...What if I hadn't done...?

What will people think?

Why me?

Will others reject me?

Will they blame me?

Changes in lifestyle

Difficulty getting things accomplished

Difficulty with intimacy

Difficulty/apprehension around men or apprehension around persons having similar attributes to the perpetrator

Discomfort around other people

Disruption in sexual relations

Fear of being alone

Fear of leaving house (especially alone)

Fear/nervousness in crowds

Hypersensitivity when relating to others

Loss of trust in self and others

Withdrawal from people, relationships, activities

Source: Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center at the University of Michigan

More effects of sexual assault here

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