Understand: Sexual Violence How to Effects Your LifeDave Smith
Even at this moment in the #metoo movement, sexual assault is a topic that many people would rather not talk about. But given how common it is, it is likely that you or someone you know has been a victim of it. In addition to this distressing reality, victims of sexual assault suffer so much that it changes the way they see and experience themselves and the world. Therefore, it is important to understand the impact it could have on your life or the life of your loved ones.
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According to Daniel, director of the Sexual RGM Program at the University of US, the statistics are sobering: 25% of college women experience rape or attempted rape; 50% of women will be sexually harassed at some time in their life; and 38% of women are bothered when they are 18 years old. (Although anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, this publication will focus specifically on cisgender women.)
Although physical damage can heal, such events often change a woman’s beliefs about herself, her future and others, and this becomes the trauma that damages her life.
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This damage can appear in many ways. For example, women who have experienced sexual violence may have difficulty feeling distressed, depressed or emotionally numb. They may also have painful memories that interfere in their daily lives. Or, they could unconsciously put themselves in positions that recreate the traumatic relationship, that is, they could see themselves repeatedly victims.
Consider these common examples of such beliefs and the healing that must happen:
“All men are self-centered and sexually predatory.” This thinking prevents women from feeling safe with men and having healthy relationships with them. To move forward, they must reconsider these beliefs and be open to the possibility that men may be kind and affectionate.
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Two common beliefs of self-conceivability are; “It was my fault” and “I’m worthless.” It could make women feel that they were somehow to blame because they were drunk, dressed provocatively or simply because they expected sex. To get rid of that self-styling thought, a victimized woman may need help to see that it was not her fault, and help to feel the truth that she is dignified and kind.
“There is nothing to worry about”. Women sometimes begin to think this way when the author acts as if nothing bad had happened. There can be healing only when your pain is recognized and the truth about being a victim is validated.
“I am helpless.” It is understandable how sexual abuse, rape or harassment can make a woman feel helpless. However, even when you could not have avoided traumatic events in the past, there are many ways in which you can be empowered in your current life.
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“Thinking about it will only make things worse.” Women often carry the trauma of being victims of sexual abuse for years, even decades, because they try to avoid thinking about events. But, again, healing can only occur when pain is seen and treated.
The list of struggles continues. A woman who has been a victim may have many thoughts, feelings and experiences that can be overwhelming and confusing. Whether you are that woman or meet someone who has been a victim, it is important to understand that struggles are not a sign of weakness or worthlessness, and that they do not need to be a continuous part of life. With professional help, a woman who has been a victim can be freed from that trauma to lead a happy and full life.