Understanding the effects of sexual assault in Pennsylvania

Sexual attacks can have many emotional, mental and physical effects on victims. These effects are individualistic and may have therapies available.

For victims of sexual assault, the trauma does not always end after the violence has subsided. Assault victims in Pennsylvania often suffer from various emotional, psychological and physical repercussions of the initial attack. Not only can the aftermath of a sexual attack affect a victim's ability to live a normal life, post-attack trauma can make it difficult for people to maintain healthy relationships. In some cases, the trauma from experiencing sexual abuse can be managed, and people can begin to heal. Studies have found that a person's ability to heal after a sex crime depends on the characteristics of the attack, environmental conditions and the amount of social support surrounding the victim, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Psychological effects of sexual assault

Survivors of a sexual assault may experience feelings of depression and anxiety. It isn't uncommon for victims of sex crimes to feel hopeless, sad and unhappy with their lives. People with depression may avoid participating in social activities that they once enjoyed. Severe emotional trauma may cause a victim to hurt themselves by cutting, burning or starving themselves, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. Child victims of sexual violence may grow to develop serious mental health problems later in life, such as eating disorders, drug or alcohol addiction, sexual promiscuity, PTSD and depression. The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network reported that these children are more likely to practice suicidal behaviors as they grow older as well.

Understanding posttraumatic stress disorder

Although posttraumatic stress disorder was first used to diagnose military veterans of war, it has also been used to diagnose people who have survived traumatic experiences. Signs of PTSD include trouble sleeping, severe nightmares, flashbacks to the traumatic event, extreme anxiety and outbursts of anger. People with PTSD often have difficulties performing daily tasks, maintaining relationships and finding employment.

Physical consequences of a sexual attack

In addition to bruises, lacerations and other physical signs of sexual abuse, victims may get sexually transmitted infections from their assailants. An STI can be either viral or bacterial, such as genital herpes, HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, HPV and gonorrhea. The victim might notice bumps or sores around the genital area, unusual discharge, pain during urination, pain in the lower abdomen and sore lymph nodes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Victims of sexual assaults who are unsure of whether they have acquired an STI may want to be evaluated by a physician.

Taking legal action

Some assault victims avoid taking legal action out of fear of the unknown. Bringing the case to light, however, may actually help a victim find closure and assist with the healing process. Holding a perpetrator responsible for their criminal actions may also save another person from a sexual attack in the future. An established attorney in Pennsylvania may give you the support and legal representation you need to ensure justice is served.

Keywords: sex crime, victim, assault, abuse