Sexual assault is one of the most traumatic and devastating experiences that a human being can go through. In fact, sexual assault is a terrible crime that physically, emotionally, and psychologically affects sexual assault survivors for the rest of their lives. To get through each week, month, or year, they may need to continuously visit doctors, counselors, psychologists, and other specialists to address the long-term effects that they are constantly dealing with.
Is sexual assault common in Los Angeles and other cities across the country?
California laws suggest that if someone sexually touches you without your consent, this is considered sexual assault. There is no specific statute that defines the word, so it can encompass anything from inappropriate touching to rape.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) states that a person in the United States is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. To make matters worse, around one in six women and one in 33 men in America have experienced rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives.
The long-term effects of sexual assault
While many people rightfully see sexual assault survivors as brave and courageous, they often cannot know or understand the long-term effects and challenges that survivors deal with on a daily basis for the remainder of their lives. The reason for this is because these physical, emotional, and psychological effects can vary, and many survivors choose to keep the experiences to themselves out of undeserved feelings of guilt or shame.
Physical trauma can manifest in multiple ways. Even when some injuries heal, survivors may suffer long-term complications or other physical responses. They can include:
- Headaches: Individuals who have trauma often have headaches. This may be because they are constantly thinking about what happened to them, which can lead to stress and tension headaches.
- Feeling tired: Fatigue is also very common after an individual has been sexually assaulted. The reason for this is because they may have trouble sleeping at night due to overwhelming thoughts or nightmares. Dealing with this type of trauma can also be exhausting.
- Nausea, vomiting, and other stomach problems: Sexual assault survivors usually have stomach problems, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and more. This can come from experiencing a traumatic event, as well as overwhelming amounts of stress and anxiety.
- Sleep problems: As mentioned, sexual assault can cause someone to have trouble sleeping. This can be because of nightmares, night terrors, overwhelming thoughts, or feeling scared that they will be sexually assaulted again.
- Sexual dysfunction: After a person has been sexually assaulted, they can begin to feel and think differently about intimacy and sexual relationships. This can cause them to experience sexual dysfunction.
- Chronic and permanent pain: Another lifelong physical effect that sexual assault survivors suffer from is chronic and permanent pain. This can be abdominal pain, joint pain, muscle pain, and more.
- Substance abuse: When a person is sexually assaulted and does not know how to cope with their feelings, they may turn to drugs and alcohol. This can become very dangerous because these substances are only a band-aid and never truly help the individual deal with their feelings or physical pain.
Emotional and psychological
Any type of physical trauma can leave mental, emotional, or psychological scars. Survivors of sexual assault often wrestle with these effects for the rest of their lives. Some of the more common responses can include:
- Depression: Sexual assault survivors usually suffer from severe depression. This is because they feel lost, hopeless, worthless, sad, angry, and so much more. They often question why it happened to them, which can lead to constant depression and feeling very low.
- Anxiety: While many people have various forms of feeling anxious, worried, nervous, or stressed, sexual assault survivors typically experience severe anxiety. This can lead to serious panic attacks, which can be extremely difficult to manage and prevent.
- Trust issues: After an individual has been sexually assaulted by someone they once trusted, they may never trust anyone again. This can affect their relationships with spouses, parents, and close friends.
- Fear or paranoia: Many survivors live in perpetual fear of another attack. This fear is a natural response, though it can develop into a more serious psychological condition.
- Inability to focus or concentrate: Sexual assault survivors may also have difficulties focusing and concentrating when in school, college, working, or even having a casual conversation with another person. This can severely affect their day-to-day activities and routine.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a psychological condition that individuals suffer from after experiencing a traumatic event, such as sexual assault. They may have nightmares, flashbacks, and uncontrollable memories. This usually causes them to have a very hard time adjusting to reality afterwards.
- Shame and low self-esteem: Shame and low self-esteem are very common among sexual assault survivors. Unfortunately, this can lead to them putting the blame on themselves and believing that others see them differently. As a result, they may isolate themselves, feel paranoid, and even believe that they’re worthless.
At Taylor & Ring, our Los Angeles sexual assault attorneys are experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable. We have worked with many sexual assault survivors in the Los Angeles area, and we know how to help you navigate the difficult legal process. Although the last thing you may want to do is deal with court hearings, our lawyers are here to provide a shoulder for you to lean on, ensuring that you have the support and guidance you need from beginning to end. If you are ready to stand up and hold the perpetrator accountable, call our office or submit our contact form. Taylor & Ring offers free, no-obligation consultations in which we can discuss your case, and everything you say will remain confidential and private.
David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.