Signs of Abuse
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 Effects||Emotional Effects||Cognitive Effects||Social Effects|
Changes in eating patterns
Changes in sleeping patterns
Sexually transmitted diseases
Stress related depression
Immune system responses
Embarrassment, feeling exposed, humiliated
Sense of disbelief
Sense of unreality
Shame, guilt, self-blame
Am I damaged goods?
Am I dirty?
Bad things happen to bad people, good things happen to good people; therefore I must be bad
I deserved it becauses...If I forget about it, it will go away...What if I hadn't done...?
What will people think?
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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