PTSD and Sexual Assault
The term "sexual assault" refers to a range of behaviours that involve unwanted sexual contact or behaviour. This can include actual and attempted rape, as well as unwanted sexual touching. Unfortunately, sexual assault occurs at an alarming rate throughout the US, with studies finding that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violent sexual assault at some point in their lives.
Sexual assault can have broad-reaching effects on many levels, including basic needs, functional impairment, physical health and mental health. An epidemiological survey carried out by the National Women's Study found the lifetime prevalence of PTSD resulting from sexual assault to be over 30%. It is estimated that around 94% of survivors of sexual assault develop symptoms of PTSD in the first two weeks after the event, leading to around 50% of victims suffering long-term symptoms.
PTSD Symptoms after Sexual Assault
While all survivors react differently to their trauma, survivors of sexual assault often experience the following symptoms of PTSD.
- Repeated, unwanted memories of the traumatic event
- Recurrent nightmares
- Flashbacks as if you are re-living the traumatic experience
- Severe distress when you are reminded of the event
- Physical reactions to reminders of the event such as increased heart rate or sweating
- Avoiding thoughts or feelings of the traumatic event
- Staying away from reminders of the trauma, such as people, places objects or situations
- Resisting conversations about what happened or how you feel about it
- Increased arousal – e.g. being easily started or having trouble concentrating
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Behaving recklessly or self-destructively
- Overly aware of your surroundings and potential threats to safety
- Struggling to remember important parts of the traumatic event
- Continuous, distorted beliefs about yourself or others
- Recurrent feelings of fear, guilt, anger, shame or hopelessness
- Feeling detached from others or struggling to maintain close relationships
Although some people will have lasting PTSD symptoms, most people who have PTSD will slowly get better. Treatments include different types of trauma-focused therapy and medication. To read more about the different treatment options available, please click here.
How we can help
If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD following an incident of sexual assault, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. It is important to contact a qualified attorney with experience in PTSD claims in order to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Our Los Angeles based law firm invites you to contact us for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation to review your case!