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Sexual Acting Out After Sexual Assault

August 25, 2011

by Betty G., Sexual Violence Center Intern

It can extremely difficult for loved ones to understand why someone would act out sexually after a sexual assault.

When someone is assaulted, things that once made sense may not make sense to them anymore. There is a feeling of helplessness that is engendered due to the assault, and acting out can be a way of feeling in control. They may feel that they are damaged forever by the assault, that they are worthless and do not deserve any better, and may develop a negative self-image due to their failure to prevent what has happened to them.

If their bodies happened to experience some good feelings during the assault, they may become even more confused. How could this happen, how could it feel kind of good at the same time that it feels so bad? Our bodies are designed to feel good, and it is possible to have some pleasant feelings while being assaulted. This does NOT mean that an assault did not occur. Remember, sexual violence is not about sex; it is about power and control. How much more power can an assailant have than to create some kind-of-good feelings while assaulting? How confusing for the victim/survivor!

Understanding and support are extremely important for the healing of any victim/survivor, and never more so than for the survivor who acts out sexually. The dedicated people at the Sexual Violence Center can aid in the survivor’s recovery, and are eager to be of service.

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