Sexual harassment in California is higher than the national average for both men and women. Sexual trauma often causes long-lasting detrimental effects on a person’s mental health, relationships and quality of life.
The development of PTSD in victims of sexual assault is significantly higher than other causes of PTSD. Eighty percent of sexual assault victims suffer from PTSD after the event. Women are more vulnerable to this mental health disorder than men. They have higher rates of the disorder and usually experience longer-lasting symptoms.
Other mental health disorders
PTSD isn’t the only type of mental health disorder that a victim of sexual trauma could develop. Substance abuse disorder, depression and anxiety disorders are common mental health issues. Suicide attempts may also occur.
A person could become either more or less sexual after sexual trauma. Some people struggle to become intimate with their romantic partners. Others start to have indiscriminate and dangerous sex.
Some people feel numb and psychologically distance themselves from anything that reminds them of the event. They might not report the incident or seek help. Victims may minimize or deny what happened as a coping mechanism.
Some people experience strong emotional reactions after the event, such as anger, fear, shock, heartache and hypervigilance. They might not feel safe reporting the incident or discussing it with others. Some victims struggle with nightmares, insomnia and reliving the experience.
Other changes in behavior
Victims of sexual assault may isolate themselves from others. They might feel a stronger need for control in their lives.
Healing from sexual trauma
Therapy could help people heal from sexual trauma. Different types of trauma treatment include EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive processing therapy.
There are slight differences in how sexual trauma affects a person. Most people experience emotional disturbances, hypervigilance and changes in their behavior.