Effects of Sexual Trauma

What are the lasting effects of sexual violence? In this episode of #ResilientLivingTV we will look at the three main effects and how lives are changed forever.




When it comes to sexual violence, the bruises are on the inside -Sexual, Physical, emotional, or mental abuse can have a profound effect on your overall well-being. The trauma can even trigger clinical depression, a serious mental health disorder.


It’s normal for survivors to have feelings of sadness, unhappiness, and hopelessness. If these feelings persist for an extended period of time, it may be an indicator of depression. Depression is not a sign of weakness and it’s not something you should be expected to “snap out of.” It’s a serious mental health condition and survivors can often benefit from the help of a professional.

Symptoms include:

  • feeling hopeless about life
  • overcome by sadness
  • detached from others, including loved ones
  • trouble concentrating

My story of depression begins with 6 months of crying myself to sleep. I felt alone until finally, I realized that that was no way to continue on.

If you have symptoms of depression for more than 2 weeks, then you may want to see a doctor. Don’t let it persist. Get help.


A flashback is when the memories feel as if they are taking place in the current moment. It’s difficult to realize that it is not real. Because of someone experiencing a flashback, it is as if they are experiencing it all over again and that the person who caused the pain is present.

At first, flashbacks may seem random however, they can be triggered by something as simple as a smell or a tone of voice, how or where someone touches you.

There is help for flashbacks. Get help from a medical professional or there is brain rewiring therapy that does not involve pain. Because the trauma affects the brain and how it is wired, you can reverse it with treatment.

Until you can get help – Try these simple tips to help you through a flashback:

  • Tell yourself its a flashback – Like a bad dream. Try to return to the present.
  • Breathe – Take slow, deep breaths by placing your hand on your stomach and taking deep breaths. Fear sometimes causes us to stop breathing or take shallow breaths, so pay attention to your breathing – taking deep breaths – count to 7 as you inhale through your nose slowly then exhale through your mouth and count again to 7 until you calm down.
  • Return to the present –  Activate your 5 senses:
  • Look around you What do you see? Items, people, place?
  • What do you smell? Recognize familiar scents?
  • Listen What do you hear?
  • Try to eat or drink something – that you enjoy engaging your sense of taste.
  • Activate your sense of touch – hold something tactile or temperature cold. What does it feel like?
  • It is a good thing to identify something that comforts or makes you feel safer. A blanket, A pillow, a place.

These steps will help take your attention from the flashback and help you relax. As you practice more you will get better at it.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is not just for the men and women of the military. It has been shown that survivors of sexual violence experience feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear.

PTSD – is an anxiety disorder resulting from a traumatic event. Survivors of any type of trauma, including sexual violence.

It is associated with extreme feelings of:

  • stress
  • fear
  • anxiety
  • nervousness
  • constantly in danger

All of which make it difficult to function in everyday life.

There are three main symptoms of PTSD:
Re-experiencing: feeling like you are reliving the event through flashbacks, dreams, or intrusive thoughts
Avoidance: intentionally or subconsciously changing your behavior to avoid scenarios associated with the event or losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
Hyper-arousal: feeling “on edge” all of the time, having difficulty sleeping, being easily startled, or prone to sudden outbursts

Again if you feel you are experiencing PTSD, get help. It is not something you want to ignore for your own peace and happiness.

Ignoring your trauma can lead to:

  • Self Harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Isolation
  • Eating Disorders
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Suicide

You can find a list of services and hotlines on my site. The link is below and also RAINN – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is a valuable resource to understand more about sexual violence, child and adult victims, and statistics of sexual crimes.