|Sexual violence is defined as sexual relations without the consent and against the will of another person. Any sexual behavior into which one is forced, tricked or coerced is sexual violence. Both men and women can be the victims of sexual violence, although the majority of victims are often females. |
The perpetrator or offender is most often male. However, there are many instances where women have been the offenders.
Sexual violence usually takes place in an apparently intimate relationship and the offender is most often someone known to the victim—husband, wife, friend, neighbor or other family members.
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|Types of sexual violence |
Sexual violence need not be a physical phenomenon. In other words, not all sexual violence includes physical contact between the victim and the tormentor. While rape, unwanted touching, forced sex within marriage are all examples of the physical aspects of sexual violence, verbal sexual harassment, threatening, stalking, peeping into a person’s private room, taking nude pictures of a person, etc. fall into the category of non-physical sexual violence. Whatever form sexual violence takes, it is never the victim’s fault.
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|Why is it a problem? |
The prevalence of sexual violence is largely underestimated. Most cases go unreported due to fear on the part of the victims to inform the police, friends or relatives about the abuse. Fear, shame, guilt, embarrassment and the thought that people may not believe them further discourage victims from seeking help. Threats and fear of further abuse and harm may also make the victims reluctant to report the matter.
Impact of sexual violence
Sexual violence can have a devastating and lifelong impact on the victim. It can lead to many physical and psychological health problems. Anxiety, depression and mood swings are common psychological problems. Headache, stomach problems, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions are some of the physical damages that sexual violence causes.
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|Victims of sexual violence are also often emotionally traumatized and scarred. The episode/s of the sexual assault haunts them frequently. They may develop a general distrust of people and society, and may become withdrawn from social relationships. Suicides and attempted suicides, alcohol and/or drug abuse are the most severe complications of sexual violence.|
|Who can be a potential offender? |
Certain individual are more prone to engage in sexual violence because of a variety of factors that affect their lives. However, the presence of these factors in an individual does not necessarily mean that he or she will be an offender. Here are some of the risk factors that can make a person inflict sexual violence:
- Being a male. Instances of men abusing women are more common than women abusing men.
- Being in the company of friends who are sexually aggressive. This can instill negative influences in a person’s mind, making him believe that it is a normal behavior.
- Having a violent past or having been sexually abused as a child.
- Alcohol and drug use can make certain people sexually violent
|Dealing with sexual violence|
- If you have been sexually assaulted try to get to a safe place first, away from your attacker.
- Immediately get in touch with a friend or a relative who can help you.
- See a doctor immediately to treat possible injuries, prevent possible pregnancy or to check for Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
|Road to recovery |
Although sexual violence can be traumatic, the fear and confusion that you feel in the aftermath of an assault will gradually fade with time. Try as you might to avoid them,there may be occasional triggers that may remind you again and again about the assault. You will need to deal with fears and feelings in order to heal and regain a sense of control over your life.Talking to someone you trust about the assault can be very difficult, but at the same time very helpful.
|In fact the recovery process may actually help you develop strengths and abilities that you never had or never knew existed in you. The recovery process may take a few weeks to months and in some women a few years. But eventually with time your scars will heal. |