Of all serious crimes, sexual assaults are the most under-reported. Survivors might feel reluctant to divulge the crimes for many reasons, such as embarrassment, fear of retribution or the belief that law enforcement will not support them. Sexual abuse can take a tremendous toll on victims, who are left to endure the mental trauma and physical injury, which could last a lifetime. This may lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, substance abuse and even suicide attempts. I advocate for sexual abuse survivors to ensure they feel supported and empowered to seek justice free of shame or fear.
This is a wide-ranging topic that could justify its own website. Generally, though, sex abuse can devastate the survivor. If a sexual assault or rape victim chooses to report the abuse, they are often subjected to an invasive exam, or “rape kit,” at the hospital. If the abuser is formally prosecuted–which many cases are not for various reasons–the survivor might have to relive the experience and share the details with law enforcement, medical personnel, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and the jury. Many understandably forgo reporting to avoid this process or for fear of victim-blaming or the guilt and shame they might feel.
Sex abuse also causes many unseen, psychological injuries, such as PTSD, anxiety, stress and depression. Survivors sometimes turn to substance abuse or suffer from eating and sleep disorders and might experience flashbacks. Others might resort to self-harm or suicide.
Everyone responds to trauma differently, and the perpetrators of abuse can vary drastically. Some abusers are doctors, friends, romantic partners or spouses, family members or foster parents. Abusers often groom the victim to become enured to the abuse, thinking it’s normal or a special secret, and they can further manipulate that person in long-term or repeat abuse. This does not have to happen for it to leave its psychological mark on someone, though. A single inappropriate or unwelcomed touch can cause emotional injury.
Sex Abuse Resources: