The number of sexual assaults that occur in the United States each year truly is alarming. About 700,000 women are forcible raped each year in the U.S.A, according to the National Victim Center. Hundreds of thousands of other individuals are the victims of other types of sexual assault annually. The statistics concerning the prevalence of sexual assault in the county certainly are alarming. With that said, the specific ways victims are affected by sexual assault truly underscores how devastating these types of crimes are to innocent victimized individuals.
Physical Effects of Sexual Assault
Approximately 1/3 of sexual assault victims sustain associated physical injuries as the result of being otherwise battered by their assailants. A perpetrator might physically assault a victim to subdue her before committing rape or other type of sexual violence. Of the number of victims who sustain associated physical injuries, only 1/3 of that number of people seek medical assistance. The failure to seek medical attention underscores the fact that rape and other types of sexual assault remain underreported in the United States in this day and age.
The more common types of physical injuries experienced by victims of sexual assault include:
- Bleeding (vaginal or anal)
- Difficulty walking
- Broken or dislocated bones
In some cases, a sexual assault victim experiences a permanent physical injury of some type. Oftentimes, this type of permanent injury is associated with a victim’s reproductive organs.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Sexual Assault
At least 50 percent of victims of sexual assault will end up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. PTSD manifests itself among sexual assault victims in a number of different ways. Victims experience persistent intense fear and helplessness. They endure recurring flashbacks of the sexual assault that are so intense the physiologically respond as if they are actually experience the incident again.
Other sexual assault victims experience detachment or even denial. They may have no ability to recall what happened to them.
PTSD associated with being a victim of sexual assault damages healthy relationships. A victim will not longer trust people in their lives, including close family members and intimate partners. Victims very well may shy away from being in the company of others, including people they love. They may have no desire to be touched in any way by another person, let alone to have sexual relations.
Recovery from PTSD can be a slow process for victims of sexual assault. A comprehensive approach to overcoming PTSD typically is the recommended course of recovery. This includes:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Support group specifically for victims of sexual assault suffering from PTSD
Other Mental and Emotional Aftereffects of Sexual Assault
In addition to a considerable percentage of victims of sexual assault suffering from PTSD, many experience other mental and emotional aftereffects. These include:
- Traumatic grief
In many cases, a sexual assault victim will experience more than one type of mental or emotional challenge, condition, or issue. The same types of professional and supportive assistance that is recommended for PTSD tend to be recommended for these conditions and issues as well.
Rape and Pregnancy
About 25,000 women become pregnant as the result of being raped. Medical experts advise that of this number, 22,000 pregnancies could have been prevented through the use of emergency contraception. As is the case with seeking medical assistance following a rape or other type of sexual assault, a notable percentage of rape victims don’t seek out emergency contraception following this type of sexual victimization.
In 2019, a handful of U.S. states passed laws that are designed to deny assess to rape victims to pregnancy termination services. These laws face court challenges and whether they will ever truly go into effect remains an open question at this juncture in time.
Crime Scene Remediation and Sexual Assault Victims
Due to the violent nature of sexual assault, another aftereffect of these crimes are crime scenes that necessitate cleanup and remediation. Over 60 percent of sexual assaults occur in a victim’s residence. A sexual assault victim should not take on the task of cleaning up and remediating this type of crime scene. When a victim addresses a sex crime scene cleanup on her own, she essentially ends up being revictimized. As a result, a victim of sexual assault that faces a crime scene in need of remediation should seek assistance from someone else. There are experienced, compassionate crime scene cleanup professionals that can thoroughly cleanup, remediate, and restore the site of criminality.
Agencies and organizations in different states can also provide support and resources to victims of sexual assault. For example, the California Victim Compensation Board can provide not only financial compensation but access to other resources to victims of sexual assault. The Board can provide up to $1,000 in financial assistance to pay for crime scene cleanup, remediation, and restoration.