How Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects Sexual Assault Survivors

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Sexual assault has millions of victims each year, and sadly, the trauma leaves scars for the survivors. Most of the time, the victims of sexual assault have to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. The PTSD symptoms occur for 94% of the survivors in the first two weeks. Even worse than that, half of those persons deal with long-term effects.

Most PTSD cases are caused by sexual and physical violence

In the United States of America, 50% percent of PTSD cases develop after sexual violence. That is because such an act is an invasion of our own body and safety, which is something very traumatic. The PTSD symptoms are even stronger for those who feel like their life is in danger.

In such situations, the brain comes with two solutions: run or fight. “Unfortunately, most victims are overpowered and they can do neither. They may instead disassociate themselves from the act, and that’s where the mind escapes the body until the assault is over,” explained Psychotherapist Akiami McCoy.

How to the victims react?

When it comes to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the symptoms might be a bit different, but there are three main ones. The first one is reliving the traumatic event. This includes “flashbacks, dreams, or intrusive thoughts.”

Another symptom is avoidance. In this situation, survivors tend to change their behavior as to prevent the event from happening again. In many cases, the victims are not interested anymore in the things they normally enjoyed.

Persons with PTSD can also suffer from hyperarousal, “feeling ‘on edge’ all of the time, having difficulty sleeping, being easily startled, or prone to sudden outburst.”

There are also some physical symptoms and the muscles might be painful or tense, as the brain remains on “high alert for danger”.

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Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca


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