Sexual trauma refers to one or many sexual violations that invoke significant distress. It isany sexual act that is imposed on another person without their full consent. This can mean for example, sexual intercourse without consent; being subjected to unwanted sexual images; being touched in a sexual way without consent; having a condom removed without consent during sexual intercourse and etc. It can be a one-off or ongoing experiences, but doesn’t necessarily involve physical force or violence.
Because survivors have a wide range of experiences and different relationships with perpetrators some survivors don’t describe their experiences as rape or assault, therefore the term Sexual Trauma is used as an umbrella term. Everyone reacts to sexual trauma in their own way, they also respond differently afterwards too.
What are the effects?
Not all will experience ongoing negative effects. This will depend on such things as temperament, earlier life experiences and support received at the time of the sexual trauma. Immediate distress may include shock, fear, anxiety, confusion, and social withdrawal. Some may also experience some trauma symptoms shortly afterwards. Some may experience emotional detachment, flashbacks, or sleeping problems.
Those who experience Sexual Trauma in childhood are at increased risk of developing mental health problems in adulthood.
It is important to remember that clinical Psychologists are trained to understand and treat people who have experienced Sexual Trauma.