For the victims of sexual violence, the effects and the implications are only just beginning when the violence stops. When the victim has suffered physical violence, the results are often obvious and relatively easy to treat. People can be stitched back up, and broken bones can be set.
The deeper wounds may be psychological and emotional injuries are less obvious and often much harder to fix, many of them never can be fixed in the way a bone can be set.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Ninety-four per cent of female victims experienced PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD vary from person to person but can include intrusive memories, or re-avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
Nine months later 30% of people are still experiencing distressing reactions to the aggression of the situation.
Inevitably, in some cases, the stress is simply too much and tragically 13% of female rape victims will attempt suicide.
Sexual violence is not something the victim can ‘snap out’ of. Depression like PTSD is a mental health condition. It is not something people can shake off, or be jollied out of. The victims often harbor deep feelings of sadness, or victimization, powerlessness, and hopelessness are common.
Becoming at risk
Women are at risk of becoming pregnant after an attack. In general, the risk of getting pregnant from unprotected sex is in the range of 3.1 – 5%. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) points out that the figure equates to approximated 7,000 – 12,500 unwanted pregnancies annually. However, all victims are at risk from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
If worries about these implications were not enough, victims of sexual violence are at a higher risk for substance abuse. A study back in 1999 discovered a victim is 3.4 times more likely to use marijuana, 6 times more likely to use cocaine and 10 times more likely to use other major drugs than the general public.
Everything is different for the victim
A victim will frequently have problems adjusting to their new reality after the event. These can be misinterpreted if the victim has not talked about the incidents. 37% have problems relating to their family and friends. Some feel unable to trust others people. Another effect is the added distress of not feeling as close to their loved ones than they did before the event.
Getting the help victims needed
There are resources for victims and there is plenty of professional help for those able to take it. The issue is that of every 1,000 rapes only 310 are reported. 69% of people who have suffered a sexual attack don’t mention it. So, they can’t take advantage of the help available and are probably unaware of its existence.
Organizations to end violence
If there is a glimmer of hope it’s organizations that look to influence the topic, protect the victims and bring the perpetrators to justice.