By Saul Roth
The different ways people react to sexual violence can be understood through a common framework. The responses do not always fit into one category, but each person’s experience with this type of trauma will show certain patterns that are recognizable for what they represent on an emotional level– Fear, anger/retribution toward the attacker(s), sadness over loss involved in offense taken or loved ones’ hurt feelings, etc.
In the wake of sexual violence, many different emotions and behaviors can appear. These are all perfectly normal responses to what has happened; they will probably go away on their own in time with help from friends or family members who care about you getting better soon–just remember that whatever happens-you’re not alone. A person might feel like giving up after being sexually assaulted because they feel completely powerless over the situation but there’s no right way or wrong way when dealing with these feelings.
The thoughts that go through a person’s head when they feel like a survivor is one of the most common feelings. These negative beliefs about themselves can be caused by many things, such as abuse or neglectful treatment from loved ones in childhood; however they usually result in the person feeling less confident and worthy than others who have not experienced these hardships first hand.
While it is understandable that survivors might feel like the abuse was their fault, blaming themself for something they didn’t do can cause even more pain in their life. It’s important to remember how much courage and strength this takes on a daily basis- especially when dealing with an offender who will only hurt others as well if they’re allowed too.
Minimizing the assault can be an effective coping strategy. This might include thinking that one’s own abuse wasn’t as bad compared to other people who have experienced something similar or even worse than what they went through themselves, but this doesn’t make their situations any less valid.
You may not even understand that there were any boundaries until they’re broken and then the questions start flooding in: “Why did this happen?” For many people who have experienced sexual violence these thoughts become guiding principles because setting a boundary means saying no more; giving up control over something which has been taken from us by force or circumstance.
It’s difficult for a victim of sexual assault to trust anyone again, including themselves. They may feel like they’re putting an inappropriate amount of faith in everyone around them or that no one will ever understand what happened and be there when needed most.
The survivor’s sense of safety has been altered, they may assess unsafe situations as safe and perceive dangerous ones.
There is often a sense of isolation for those who have been through sexual abuse. They feel like nobody understands what they’ve gone through and it can compound feelings that were already present before the disclosure was made.
The assault may have happened before the development of language and so a survivor’s memories are stored in their minds as pictures or textures rather than words. This means that they cannot speak about what happened.
PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It can develop after a terrifying event like physical or sexual assault. People with this condition sometimes feel nightmares where they relive the traumatic incident again and again, even while sleeping. They may also have somatic complaints such as trouble concentrating.
Survivors may show a variety of emotions depending on what they are feeling at the time. Some common ones include anger, sadness and disbelief in addition to being unsure about how or why things happened as well as denying that anything has actually occurred which can lead them into confusion with thoughts such asking “what did I do?”
Many people experience intense psychological trauma following a witnessed or lived traumatic event. Survivors may be unable to block out thoughts of the assault, and they might constantly think about what went wrong. Nightmares are common while survivors can also dream up situations where it feels like “mastering” one’s fear by getting through them again would help alleviate painful emotions experienced previously.
These are just some of the many side effects that can arise from trauma. Other issues include eating disorders, physical changes like an increased appetite or trouble losing weight; mental health concerns such as thoughts about suicide/self-harm due to emotional distress which could result in depression among other things.