The Impact of Sexual Violence Against Women

Myca Swazer

Violence against women has definitely increased over time. The more women say no to men’s advances, the more men let their egos and misogynist views control their reactions. It seems as if they just can’t take no for an answer.

In recent months, attacks on straight and lesbian women have been in the news. If a woman is not interested and does not want a man’s company, he automatically feels emasculated and/or threatened, which then leads to assault, rape, and even death.

The long-term effects on victims lead to depression, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), dissociation, and suicide. Depression is the most common and the symptoms are hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, sadness, changes in appetite and suicidal thoughts.

Most of the time victims will not get help for their psychological issues and end up suffering in silence. There are many who will not even tell that they have been raped or assaulted. These women suffer completely alone because of fear of embarrassment, being ashamed or not being believed by someone if they told.

After a victim has been sexually assaulted she may not know how to feel normal again. The first thing a victim needs to realize is that the rape is NOT her fault. The details of the event replay over and over again in their minds. The physical pain may not last long, but the mental anguish lasts much longer. For example, if a woman was drugged and raped, has no recollection of what occurred while she was unconscious, how does she deal with her emotions if she isn’t sure what happened? Also, the physical pain is there, but does she tell anyone or go get treatment because of her uncertainty and fear of being judged? Most likely she won’t, because she is embarrassed and would just rather deal with it alone.

As the days pass and the little that she can remember runs through her head, she isolates herself more and more. She fears that maybe the rape was her fault, and she feels guilty. The feelings overwhelm her and she falls into a deep depression because she knows if she tells someone, they won’t believe her, especially if she is a teenage girl. There is a stigma attached to teen girls as being easy and fast. But that has nothing to do with a man assaulting a woman. The effects of depression on the mind, body, and soul, are devastating and can lead to a suicide attempt.

With a suicide attempt, there come new challenges. Once someone finds out about the attempt, they may encourage her to get help. Counseling three times a day, time in the hospital mental ward, taking medications multiple times a day, and feeling numb not only because of the medications, but because the counseling sessions require that feelings about what led to the suicide attempt be discussed. It seems like telling someone about the rape would have had a different outcome than this, but would it have been easier to deal with?

Many times certain questions don’t get answered. Debating on how to deal with these questions and negative feelings, especially with the hopelessness and worthlessness of depression, always takes a toll on the victim. In order to start the healing process, the victim should, at least, tell someone about their assault and express the repressed feelings and emotions out into the open. Opening up to someone just may save a victim’s life.

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