Sexual Assault & Abuse
Perpetrators of sexual assault and abuse create a range of trauma for their victims. Adults and children that have been sexually abused or assaulted react to trauma in all kinds of ways. Any reaction that you have is normal. Here are some common survivor responses to being sexually assaulted.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be common for survivors of sexual assault or abuse. It may include a combination of the above symptoms like replaying the assault over and over again in one’s mind, nightmares, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, eating and concentrating, hypervigilance around safety, and/or avoiding thoughts, feelings, and situations related to the assault. These symptoms can often interfere with daily life. More information on PTSD is available at the National Institute of Health.
Children’s Exposure to Multiple Traumas
Research suggests that children who are exposed to multiple traumas experience lasting effects over a lifetime. Multiple traumas could be experiences such as child sexual abuse, living in a home with a domestic violence perpetrator, community violence, or death of a loved one. Lasting effects may include health and mental health issues such as substance abuse, disease, suicide, risk-taking behaviors, smoking, violence in intimate relationships and early death. This research came from a study called the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES). More information and resources about ACES is available from MDHHS. You can learn more about treatment and responding to multiple traumas from your local Child Advocacy Center.