What Are The Lasting Effects of Sexual Abuse on Victims?
Studies over the past decades have revealed that a wide variety of psychological, physical, and interpersonal issues are more common among sexual abuse survivors than among people who haven’t been sexually abused. Sexual abuse could take a massive toll on an individual’s psychological, sexual, behavioral, and physical health for months or years following the sexual abuse incident.
Effects on Behavioral and Psychological Health
All cases of sexual abuse will differ from one person to the other, which also means that their behavioral reaction to the incident will vastly differ from each other. For instance, although some sexual abuse survivors avoid sexual or intimate relationships after the abuse, others may engage in risky sexual relationships and behaviors, including having multiple sexual partners, more sexual encounters, and not using protection.
They might likewise turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as self-harm and alcohol and/or drug abuse. Some might even avoid situations, conversations, articles, or shows that feel unsafe to them or remind them of sexual abuse. While these effects might go away in time for some survivors, others would continually experience some type of psychological distress for several months or years, such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Extreme feelings of guilt, shame, and denial
- Memory loss
- Trust and safety issues leading to anxiety and isolation
- Panic attacks
It’s also vital to note that sexual abuse survivors might be more vulnerable to revictimization. This increased risk of being revictimized might result from the individual’s general vulnerability to exploitation by deceitful people and in dangerous situations.
Effects on Sexual Health
Enjoying sexual contact could be particularly challenging for sexual abuse survivors. They might experience reduced sexual behavior and low sexual desire. Some even feel anxiety, fear, pain, or panic with any kind of sexual contact. The guilt and shame from their trauma could likewise interfere with sexual desire and satisfaction. Additionally, sexual abuse survivors have an increased risk of experiencing severe sexual problems in the future.
Effects on Physical Health
Sexual abuse could also bring on various physical conditions that are common in individuals with PTSD. For instance, rape survivors have been found to have an increased risk of developing:
- Digestive issues
- Intense premenstrual symptoms
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Eating disorders
- Sleeping disorders
- Non-epileptic seizures
- Heart and brain small vessel disease
Likewise, rape or attempted rape survivors are more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which could result in additional emotional and physical health issues.
Reach Out to Our Experienced Morris County, NJ, Sexual Abuse Attorneys
For many sexual abuse survivors, these negative physical, psychological, and sexual issues will diminish over time. For some, unfortunately, they might persist or worsen over time. But what you need to remember is that you did not do anything to cause the sexual abuse, and it was never your fault.
If you’re ready to take the next step and hold your abuser legally accountable for their heinous crimes, the skilled Morris County, NJ, sexual abuse attorneys of the Leonard Legal Group can help. Call 973-984-1414 or fill out our online form to arrange your confidential, no-cost consultation today.