The #metoo movement achieved many important accomplishments when it went viral, but perhaps the most important was letting survivors of sexual assault, rape, and sexual harassment know that they are not alone. It would be wonderful if no one’s sexual boundaries were ever violated, but that is not how the current world functions. It is difficult to talk about sexual violence, but it is important. With understanding can come empathy and with empathy can come healing. The shame of sexual violence might keep people from speaking up, but speaking about what they endured may be just what survivors of sexual violence need to do. They may also need to hear important truths like… You are not responsible for what happened to you… you did not provoke this harm… you are strong… you can heal. Each person’s healing journey is unique, but victims of sexual violence often benefit from working with a therapist who understands the nature of sexual violence and how to heal from it. If your sexual boundaries have been violated, consider going to counseling for survivors of sexual violence.
“I can be changed by what happens to me,
but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
— Maya Angelou
More and more, Thriveworks Virginia Beach is seeing clients who need help healing from sexual violence. If you have experienced a sexual assault, know that you are not alone. Our therapists understand the harm that sexual violence can cause, but we also know the healing that is possible.
Thinking about sexual violence is not pleasant; however, it is important. Knowing what forms sexual violence can take may empower victims to understand what happened to them. For those who have not lived through sexual violence, knowledge can promote empathy for those who have. Sexual violence is a broad term that can come in many forms, including child sexual abuse, sexual assault, incest, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, rape, and more.
- Child Sexual Abuse – A child cannot consent to sex. Any form of sexual contact, including but not limited to exposing oneself, rape, and child pornography, with a child is child sexual abuse.
- Sexual Assault – Unwelcomed sexual touch, groping, or fondling is sexual assault. It includes attempted rape.
- Incest – When one family member rapes or sexually assaults another, that violence is considered incest.
- Intimacy Partner Sexual Violence – When a boyfriend, spouse, or girlfriend sexually assaults, harasses, or rapes their significant other, that act is intimacy partner sexual violence.
- Sexual Harassment – Inappropriate and undesired talk with sexual overtones, sexual advances, or solicitations for sexual favors are included in the definition of sexual harassment.
- Rape – Being forced or coerced into performing a sexual act upon oneself or on another individual. Rape includes any kind of penetration and oral sex.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has collected data on how, where, to whom, and how often sexual assault happens in the United States:
- Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted.
- 12 percent of sexual assaults (including rape) occur at or near a relative’s home.
- People ages 18-36 are most at risk for sexual harassment or assault.
- 55 percent of sexual assaults happen at or near the victim’s home.
- 1 in 6 women are the victims of an attempted or completed rape.
- 10 percent of rape victims are male.
- 7 percent of sexual assaults occur at school.
- 12 percent of sexual assault victims are working when it occurs.
Sexual Assault: The Fallout
When people’s sexual boundaries are violated, they often feel the impact of the assault long after the initial act has occurred. Sexual violence is often traumatizing to an individual, and each person responds to trauma in their own way. Nonetheless, there are common threads to what an individual may experience after the trauma of sexual violence, including both physical and emotional/psychological effects.
- Physical Effects. There are a number of injuries a victim can sustain during sexual violence. Victims are often cut or bruised. They may experience broken bones and more. Victims may also experience sexual injuries. They may contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or become pregnant.
- Psychological and Emotional Effects. Some of the deepest injuries sustained during sexual violence cannot be seen, but they are nonetheless real. Many victims speak of how the most painful part of sexual violence is the emotional and psychological impact of being violated. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often associated with combat veterans, but victims of sexual assault suffer from PTSD as well. With PTSD can come hyper-vigilance, nightmares, and flashbacks. Other mental health challenges are also common—depression, eating disorders, insomnia, self-harm, suicide ideation, and more.
Healing from Sexual Violence—Scheduling an Appointment at Thriveworks Virginia Beach
If you have lived through sexual violence, the therapists at Thriveworks Virginia Beach want to say that what happened to you does not define you. Sexual violence can leave many wounds, and the pain is real. Healing is also possible. Many survivors feel safe and whole again, and they often work with a therapist to learn how to heal their wounds and cope with the pain. If you are ready to reach out and meet with a therapist, we are ready to meet with you. When you call Thriveworks Virginia Beach, one of our scheduling specialists will answer. They will help you make an appointment, but you will never reach a voicemail. We offer evening and weekend sessions. New clients often meet with their therapist within 24 hours of their first call, but we do not put our clients on a waitlist. Many different insurance plans are also accepted. Call today for an appointment.