When men and women took to social media to join the #metoo movement, they were drawing attention to a big problem. Many people know what it feels like to have their sexual boundaries violated. #metoo drew attention to the problem, but it also highlighted the healing that can take place. Regardless of the form it takes, sexual violence can cause substantial harm to its victims, and it is important for anyone who has experienced rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment to know that what happened to them was not their fault. It is possible to feel safe and whole again. Many survivors work with a therapist as they heal from sexual violence. Counseling for victims of sexual assault has be a key element of many people’s healing journey.
“There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.”
— Charles Dickens
The mental health professionals—including our counselors, therapists, and psychologists—at Thriveworks Cambridge have helped many people who have lived through sexual violence. We understand the trauma and harm it can cause. We also understand what it takes to heal.
Defining Sexual Violence
Talking about what sexual violence is, how frequently it occurs, and where it might take place is not fun, but it is a valuable conversation to have. Shame can isolate victims, but speaking openly about what happened, using proper terms, and understanding how common it is can all combat the shame.
Sexual violence can come in a variety of forms, and each individual’s experiences will be unique. Some of the forms the violence can take include…
- Rape – Sex that is not consensual. Rape can be a violence forcing of a sexual act or it can be a manipulative coercion. It includes any kind of penetration as well as oral sex.
- Child Sexual Abuse – Children are not legally or emotionally capable of consenting to sexual activity, so any sexual act between an adult and kid is sexually abusive. This includes everything from rape to exposing oneself to a child.
- Sexual Assault – Is unsolicited, undesired sexual groping, fondling, and touch, up to and including attempted rape.
- Sexual Harassment – All unwelcomed sexual inquiries, talk, or demands.
- Incest – Occurs when the perpetrator and the victim of rape or sexual assault are in the same family.
- Intimacy Partner Sexual Violence – Occurs when the perpetrator and the victim of rape or sexual assault are in a relationship as boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouses.
“Making someone feel obligated, pressured or forced into doing something of a sexual nature that they don’t want to is sexual coercion. This includes persistent attempts at sexual contact when the person has already refused you. Nobody owes you sex, ever; and no means no, always.”
― Miya Yamanouchi
It is also important to talk about how often and where sexual violence can occur. Victims often feel alone or as if they are tainted, and knowing how and when sexual assault happens may help people realize that what happened to them was not their fault. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has studied sexual violence. They discovered…
- 10 percent of rape victims are male.
- 12 percent occur at or near a relative’s home.
- Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted.
- 55 percent of sexual assaults occur at or near the victim’s home.
- 7 percent of sexual assaults happen at school.
- People ages 18-36 are most at risk for sexual harassment or assault.
- 1 in 6 women are the victims of an attempted or completed rape.
- 12 percent of sexual assault victims are working when it occurs.
Sexual Assault: Emotional and Physical Injuries
Some of the wounds that sexual violence can leave are seen and some are unseen. Each is very personal. Because sexual assault can take many different forms, so can the wounds it leaves. Nonetheless, many survivors report dealing with similar dynamics. It does not mean that everyone will experience these wounds, but they are common.
- Psychological and Emotional Injures. People who have lived through sexual violence often report that many of the wounds they sustained could not be seen, but they were nonetheless real. They may struggle with their self-worth, with having been treated as an object instead of as a person. They may develop mental health challenges. It is common for survivors to be diagnosed with anxiety, depressive, or eating disorders. It is not unusual for them to struggle with sleep or self-harm.
- Physical Harm. Crossing another person’s sexual boundaries is also a physical act of violence. Victims may sustain injuries during a rape or sexual assault. They may have cuts, broken bones, bruises, and more. It is possible to contract a sexually transmitted disease as well. Women may also become pregnant.
Appointments at Thriveworks Cambridge for Victims of Sexual Violence
If you have experienced sexual violence and are ready to see a therapist or psychologist, the mental health professionals at Thriveworks Cambridge are ready to see you. When you contact our office, one of our scheduling specialists will answer. Your first appointment may be the following day. We offer evening and weekend sessions. We also accept many different insurance plans. Call today.