Social and relationships

Social and relationships

Effects Of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can have a big impact on relationships and social life. It is very common for survivors to want to stay away from people for a while following the assault, even people close to them. In addition, survivors may have trouble with irritability or anger as a result of the assault, which can put a further strain on relationships.

It is also usual for survivors of sexual assault to avoid sexual or other intimate activities for a period of time following the abuse, and this can call for high levels of understanding and compassion from partners.

A period of isolation is normal following an assault and actually part of the recovery process, as the mind and body conserve their energy. The survivor will usually return to their pre-assault levels of engagement with others in a few weeks or months.

There can be an added complication if, like many survivors, you know the person assaulted you. This is even more difficult where others who also know that person don’t or can’t believe you. This is particularly problematic in families and may lead to lasting splits and family disconnection.

Victims of sexual assault may also develop a general lack of trust in others or a fear of meeting new people or going to new places. Again, this is a normal part of the recovery process but it can become an established pattern of avoidance. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, or in difficulty maintaining relationships.

The key thing to remember is that all these responses are reasonable and normal following an assault. Give yourself time, and work slowly and gently to rebuild or return to relationships and social life.