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Fleshing Out the Effects of Sexual Assault

June 21, 2012

by Rachel F., Sexual Violence Center Intern

As if being sexually assaulted isn’t enough, people also have to worry about their body image. In today’s society, we are bombarded by images of svelte, tanned models who happen to be blemish-free, adorned in the latest fashions. They cover every magazine, every billboard, and every city bus. It is almost impossible to escape the need of having to look picture-perfect all the time, but what happens when someone is sexually assaulted?

The assault can cause them to feel numb, disoriented, and disconnected from their body. Many people choose to wear loose, baggy clothing after an assault because they may feel as though no one will ever want them again, so why should they try to appear any other way? Other people may choose to dress extravagantly, in an attempt to cover up the damage that has been done.

Trauma is experienced not only in the mind, but in the body as well. There is more to it than just thinking about the assault; there is a physical aspect to sexual violence that causes many people to feel broken and contaminated afterwards. Taking control of someone else’s body can be a powerful way to destroy any sense of self-respect and dignity that was there before.

In order to be reconnected with the body, we need to take control of what was once ours, and let the healing process take over. It is possible to regain control of your body after a sexual assault, and one of the most important things to remember is to be patient with oneself, and with the loved ones around you. Being intimate with someone after an assault also takes time; many people feel as though they will never be able to be intimate with their loved ones again. Let your mind and body guide you through this difficult time, and try to ignore the messages that the media blatantly continues to shove in our faces. Love yourself for who you are, and what you have been through.

Find more support resources on The Survivor Manual and SVC’s website.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2012 7:02 pm

    Hello, I have created a term called, “Child Sexual Abuse Grooming”. It is a trademarked term using some deep research to clarify the help need for victims of child sexual abuse. I am nominated for YAHOO’s “Women Who Shine” and would love your VOTE. If I win, I get a COVER STORY to shed light on Child Sexual Abuse, and to talk in depth about what #CSAG is and how we can help people to overcome abuse. Feel free to Re-Blog the link as well. Thank you in advance. I am following you and will keep coming back to check out your work. Thanks Ressurrection

  2. March 29, 2013 2:30 am

    I am glad to have come across this post. I work with young victims of sexual abuse and most times, the main concern is not just remembering the act but being in control of one self again. It is very easy for a victim to just give herself away to any other form of violence because she feels worthless.

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