Sexual assault victims face numerous challenges in their lives after the ordeal. The issues they face range from personal to economic and societal challenges. On personal levels, sexual assault victims may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Others become fearful and their self-esteem dwindles as they suffer shame by viewing themselves as having invited the assault on themselves, (Golding, Wilsnack & Cooper 2002). The victims may also lose trust in people close to them especially those belonging to the gender that assaulted them. Moreover, the victims may also suffer medical conditions such as stomachaches and headaches. In case of rape, the victims may become pregnant or contract venereal deceases. These developments affect the victims on a personal level.
Economically, sexual assault victims spend substantial amounts of money on undergoing treatment in case the sexual assault resulted in physical injury. Most of the victims spend more money and a lot of time on counseling and therapy sessions in an attempt to regain their self-worth and manage to go on with their live (Burgess 1991). Moreover, government departments, Non Governmental Organizations and institutions such as colleges also spend substantial amounts of money in anti-sexual victimization campaigns.
The societal effects of sexual victimization include reduced contact with friends and relatives as victims withdraw into seclusion. The victims tend to feel that that they receive less emotional support from their relatives and friends. There may also be strained relationships between the victim and his/her friends and relatives. Moreover, the victims may suffer reduced likelihood of getting married.
Anna was frequently sexually abused by her uncle when she was between nine and fourteen years old. The abuse stopped when she told her parents about it and action was taken against her uncle. She also suffered sexual abuse from an older cousin and an older boy in school when she was 12 years. Though Anna moved on after those incidences, when she reached 27 years she got really stressed while trying to settle down with her boyfriend. She became overly anxious for apparently no reason, began to fear the dark and excessively worried about her appearance. These developments affected her functioning at the workplace as she suffered deteriorating mental health. In an attempt to restore her life back to normalcy, she decided to seek the help of a therapist. The therapist applied a variety of techniques such as compassionate mind training-aimed at making her feel less responsible for what happened to her, writing-expressing her feelings on paper was less distressing than talking about them. After a period of two years, Anna had regained her self-confidence, could function normally at work and felt more comfortable spending time with her boyfriend.
Based on the experiences Anna went through, it is appropriate that sexual assault victims seek psychological help as early as they can after the victimization ordeals. Psychological help to sexual assault victims is as important as medical attention. The earlier the victim seeks psychological help, the lesser are the chances of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders and other related effects. According to Koss and Harvey (1991) sexual assault victims should be allowed to undergo therapy sessions through techniques that invoke less stress to them. To curb child sexual abuse it is appropriate for parents to initiate open and effective communication with their children. This makes them freer to expose people who could be sexually, physically and emotionally assaulting them (Burgess 1991). It is also important for youths and adults to learn how to protect themselves from sexual victimization. Ladies can for instance avoid dressing in sexually provocative ways at work. Moreover, the learning of basic martial arts skills could come in handy when one is faced with a sex predator.
Burgess, A. (1991). Rape and Sexual Assault III: A Research Handbook. New York: Garland.
Golding J., Wilsnack S. & Cooper M. (2002). Sexual assault history and social support:
general population studies. Journal of Traumatic Stress. Vol. 107. Pp. 14
Koss M. & Harvey, M. (1991). The Rape Victim: Clinical and Community Interventions.
Newbury Park, CA: Sage Library of Social Research.