Long-term effects of sexual abuse are often hidden. These signs are unknowingly out of plain sight because sometimes, victims themselves, don’t recognize themselves as having been sexually assaulted. The spectrum of sexual assault is wide and, in recent years, more awareness is being raised to signs of sexual assault. Think you may have been assaulted? Here are 5 signs that you may have been unknowingly sexually assaulted.
- Nightmares and Mood Changes
When a person experiences trauma, they are psychologically changed. Our bodies experience fear and as a way to react to that trauma, we put up defenses to cope. When we are forced into a situation where the memory of this trauma is recalled, triggers such as nightmares and mood changes may happen as a way to react to that memory or situation. Victims may experience vivid flashbacks and nightmares, it may be your body trying to react to the sexual assault you experienced.
- Negative Emotions
Another way the body and mind deals with trauma such as sexual assault is through emotions. Emotional reactions such as fear, shame, guilt, self-blame is often associated to victims of sexual assault. These feelings often lead to victims experiencing depression and anxiety. These negative emotions spring from the idea that survivors of sexual assault think that what they went through was caused by their actions and that they deserved it.
- Physical Pain
Pain can appear shortly after assault such as chronic or diffuse pain located near the bottom or pelvic area, bruising or pulled ligaments could also appear. These symptoms are important to be noted, especially to lawyers that help with these cases such as Winer, Mckenna, Burritt & Tillis. Other physical pain can include own bodily harm in response to the trauma such as alcohol abuse, drug use and smoking.
- Strained Relationships and Isolation
Another sign of possible sexual assault is strained relationships. Victims may begin to push people away or lean away from their usual friend groups. They may also become less committed and more reserved to their own, not wanting to share with friends about what’s going on with their life and prefer to be reclusive in nature. This strain in relationships with others can be signs of assault as victims try distancing themselves from people due to lack of trust or hurt.
Victims that become distress over males or situations that involve strangers that aren’t usually part of their personality pattern can be a sign of sexual assault. Distress is how the body answers to possibly trauma such as sexual assault, some are generalized distress while others are specific.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. By being aware of the signs that are generally caused by sexual assault, it can help victims realize what they’ve been through but also for witnesses to recognize where to support them. So, next time when you experience something you feel not quite right, remember these signs, see if they check out and if they do, seek help.