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Sexual violence happens in every community and affects people of all genders and ages. Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact. This includes words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent. Consent must be freely given and informed, and a person can change their mind at any time.Consent is more than a yes or no. It is a dialogue about desires, needs, and level of comfort with different sexual interactions.A person may use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence.

An assault may impact a survivor’s daily life no matter when it happened. Each survivor reacts to sexual violence in their own way. Common emotional reactions include guilt, shame, fear, numbness, shock, and feelings of isolation.

Physical impacts may include personal injuries, concerns about pregnancy, or risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Economic impacts of sexual violence include medical and other expenses in addition to things like time off work. The long-term psychological effects survivors may face if their trauma is left untreated include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, isolation, and others.

Thinking Man on Couch

Types of Sexual Violence


Effects of Sexual Violence

  • Self-Harm - Deliberate self-harm, or self-injury, is when a person inflicts physical harm on himself or herself, usually in secret.

  • Sexually Transmitted Infections - A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a bacterial or viral infection passed from one person to another through vaginal, anal, or oral contact.

  • Substance Abuse - If you are concerned that you’re using substances in a way that could be harmful to your health or have concerns for someone you care about, consider learning more about the warning signs and places to find support.

  • Dissociation - Dissociation is one of the many defense mechanisms the brain can use to cope with the trauma of sexual violence.

  • Panic Attacks - A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense fear and anxiety that happens in situations when there may be no immediate danger. They tend to affect people who have experienced trauma, abuse, or high levels of stress.

  • Eating Disorders - Sexual violence can affect survivors in many ways, including perceptions of the body and feelings of control.

  • Pregnancy - If you were recently raped, you may have concerns about becoming pregnant from the attack.

  • Sleep Disorders - Symptoms of sleep disorders can include trouble falling or staying asleep, sleeping at unusual times of day, or sleeping for longer or shorter than usual.

  • Suicide - Suicide is preventable and suicidal thoughts aren’t permanent. If you are thinking about suicide, there are resources to give you the support you need to get through this tough time.

  • Flashbacks- During a flashback, memories of past traumas feel as if they are taking place in the current moment.

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- After a traumatic event, it is typical to have feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, making it difficult to adjust or cope for some time afterward.

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