sexual assault services brisbane

Impacts of Sexual Assault

Everyone’s experiences of sexual assault are different, and so the impact of sexual violence will differ greatly between young women. Below is a list of some of the common effects of sexual violence.

Impact on Emotional Health:
A young woman may feel:

• Isolated/alone
• Self-hatred
• Self-blame
• Shame
• Disbelief
• Humiliation
• Out of control
• General loss of self-esteem
• Dirty
• Fearful
• Disgust
• Sadness
• numbness
• Emptiness
• Guilty
• Angry


Impact on Physical Health:
• Self-mutilation
• Insomnia
• Excessive tiredness
• Eating issues
• Drug and alcohol abuse
• Physical injury
• Contraction of sexually transmitted diseases
• Loss of ability to carry children
• Long term impacts in areas of reproductive and respiratory health


Impact on Mental Health:
Sexual assault and abuse can have long-term impacts on the mental health of survivors also. Some of the common mental health issues for survivors include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Suicidality
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD
  • Dissociative Disorders

Impact on Social Health:

  • Sexual abuse can tear families apart and may result in the young woman being isolated from her family
  • Isolation from friends
  • Homelessness
  • Loss of trust in people and the world in general
  • Difficulty forming healthy, trusting intimate relationships
  • Difficulty in the expression of her sexuality
  • Some young women may act out with violent and/or risk-taking behaviours
  • Many young women also miss out on vital parts of their education as a result of abuse and it’s impacts
  • The impact of sexual violence on the physical and emotional health of a young woman may mean that she is unable to participate in the workforce
  • Loss of meaning or purpose in life
  • Difficulty planning or imagining a future

The differences in the effects of sexual violence will depend on a number of variables. Some of these include:

  • Who the perpetrator is in relation to the young woman eg. Stranger, school friend, boyfriend, acquaintance, father, step-father, uncle, brother, mother
  • The age of the young woman/child when the abuse occurred
  • The duration of the abuse
  • The severity of the abuse
  • The frequency of the abuse
  • The appropriateness of the response to the young woman/child when she first discloses the violence
  • The presence of a non-offending primary care-giver in the young woman’s life who is understanding, caring and supportive
  • The number of other supports available to the young woman
  • Other trauma and distress in the young woman’s life.