Sexual abuse is an extremely traumatizing event. It can have long term effects on the victim. The victim will have psychological, emotional, and physical effects for a long time. Follow this article to learn more about the signs of sexual abuse in adults and what are the long term effects of sexual abuse on adults.
A person who has been a victim of sexual abuse will face many long term effects, like psychologically, emotionally, and physically. They will fall into depression and PTSD and it can get severe as the time goes by. Initially they might not share it with anyone that they have been subjected to sexual abuse, but all the signs will give it away to the people who are around them, especially their family and friends who know them personally.
A person who has been sexually abused will choose isolation as a way to cope with their emotions. They will distance themselves from others both emotionally and physically. They will have crippling anxiety when someone will come close to them physically. This is a major sign that they have been subjected to sexual abuse. Also you see bruises on their body and they refuse to get themselves a check up.
Follow this article to explore more about the signs of sexual abuse in adults and what are the long term effects of sexual abuse on adults.
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What are the signs of sexual abuse in adults:
Sexual abuse is a traumatic experience for every victim. At first people do not disclose that they have been a victim of sexual abuse because of the stigma regarding sexual abuse that surrounds our society. But there are some signs of sexual abuse that can make it obvious for the friends and family of the victim that something is wrong. The most notable signs of sexual abuse in adults are as following.
- Vaginal infection
- Nightmares or panic attacks
- Difficulty to carry on with daily tasks
- Substance abuse
- Self harm
- Avoiding specific situations or places
Depression is one of the most protruding signs of sexual abuse. The person who has been subjected to sexual abuse will face excessive depression and anxiety. Their mind will not let them move on from the incident and if this keeps on going then, there is a chance that the victim will start having suicidal thoughts which can lead to self harm. When the victim is unable to share their emotions with someone else then, they will constantly get negative thoughts and this might lead them towards more mental health conditions.
The victim will close themselves and cut off contact with the rest of the world. If they liked to go out with friends and family then, now they do not go out any more. They have developed trust issues and they think that if anyone gets to know that they are a victim of sexual abuse then they will leave them.
Immediately after sexual abuse if the victim is not treated properly then, the injuries on their hymen and vagina can cause itching and vaginal infection. Blood clots and excessive bleeding can make a person infected with HIV and AIDs. it is important for a person who has been subjected to sexual abuse to get a proper treatment from healthcare professionals.
It is one of the most distinguished signs of sexual abuse in adults. The victim will have bruises and injuries on different parts of their body and also fractures. When you ask them then they will give you an unbelievable reason like they feel from the stairs but you know it is far from the truth. A person will have injuries on their face, bite marks on neck, and bruises on vagina and legs.
Nightmares or panic attacks:
A person who has been subjected to sexual abuse will face nightmares and panic attacks for a long time. They will have a hard time being alone especially at night, but they will not tell anyone about their feelings. The nightmares will consist of flashbacks from that incident and they will keep on reminding them about the abuse over and over again. Oftentimes the victim will wake up screaming or having difficulty in breathing. To avoid getting any nightmares, the victim might not sleep at all or start taking sleeping pills at night.
Difficulty to carry on with daily tasks:
A person who has been sexually abused will isolate themselves and fall into depression and anxiety. Initially they will find it hard to get out of their bed, they will avoid doing their basic tasks like, washing their face or brushing their hair. They will be distracted all the time and this will result in them falling behind on their tasks.
The victim of sexual abuse might fall prey to substance abuse. Addiction will numb their pain and feelings for a while and they will have a chance to escape their reality. This might lead to addiction to alcohol and drugs because these things will prove to be a good substitute for all the pain they have been going through. This is a deep pit and with them relying too much on substances, they will keep on falling deep in that pit.
A person who has been abused sexually will distance themselves from everyone and fall into depression, this might give birth to negative and suicidal thoughts. The victim of sexual abuse might start taking sleeping pills just so they can find some relief from their thoughts and they might try to cut themselves. The pain will work as a substitute for actually killing themselves and they might get addicted to self harm. It is a coping method for them against the ups and downs of life.
Avoiding specific situations or places:
The victim of sexual abuse will try hard to avoid specific situations or places that remind them of that incident. For example, if a person was raped at a party then they will try to avoid going to any party for a significant amount of time. They will avoid dark places or go outside after the sun has gone down. They will have this fear at the back of their mind that someone is following them and to avoid that they will isolate themselves from the rest of the world.
What are the long term effects of sexual abuse on adults?
A victim will not be able to heal quickly from their sexual abuse. It can take years for them to move on from that incident. There are some prominent long term effects of sexual abuse on adults and these effects mights stay with the victim for a significant amount of time.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD
- Trust issues
- Anger issues
- Impaired relationships
- Fear of intimacy
- Body dysmorphia
- Self harm
- Unplanned pregnancy
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD:
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the long term effects of sexual abuse. The victim of sexual abuse will never be able to truly forget about the incident, they will try to move on in their life but some parts of abuse will always stay with them. Sometimes they will experience nightmares, they will avoid talking to strangers, they will try not to go out in public places or to events similar to their abuse. These are all the signs of PTSD.
It is one of the main long term side effects of sexual abuse. If you do not consult a professional therapist then, it will only get worse for you. If you do not accept your situation and keep on living in denial then, this depression will keep on growing its roots inside your mind and it will develop feelings of self hatred which can lead to a person having suicidal thoughts.
A person who has been abused sexually will have a hard time trusting someone, especially if their abuser was someone they knew. The victim will cut off everyone and start living their lives in isolation. They have extremely high walls around them, this is their way to protect themselves. They will give a hard time to anyone who tries to get close to them.
Isolation is the result of depression and trust issues. When a person finds it hard to trust others and they are also battling depression then, they will end up isolating themselves. If a person has been subjected to sexual abuse then, they will start maintaining distance from everyone because they believe that everyone is going to hurt them.
After everything a person has been through, developing anger issues is one of the destructive long term effects of sexual abuse. Their trigger will be anything that reminds them of their abuser or of that incident. Their anger might get destructive and all of their suppressed frustration is going to come out in the form of anger. Sexual abuse is the real reason that led them being so aggressive and frustrated.
It might be hard for the victim of sexual abuse to have a stable relationship. It may be because of the fact that they do not trust someone easily and they prefer to stay in isolation rather than going out. Also they have their triggers of PTSD and aggression that may lead them to be destructive in a relationship. Plus physical contact may be hard for them.
Fear of intimacy:
Being intimate is a huge deal for every person, especially if you have been subjected to sexual abuse then, it might be a huge problem. It can give a person flashbacks and their entire body shuts down. It is one of the sad after effects of sexual abuse. The victim is not able to trust someone easily and being intimate might be out of the question for the victim for a significant amount of time.
A person who has been a vitim of sexual abuse might have body dysmorphia. It is a state where a person will start to hate their body after the abuse, they will think that just because they have been sexually abused, they are not beautiful anymore. They will starve themselves to get the perfect shape and they will not believe anyone who tells them otherwise. Body dysmorphia is a constant urge to vanish from their old self.
Self harm is a result of depression and PTSD, especially when a person is dealing with the after effects of sexual abuse then, it is possible that the victim will indulge themselves in self harm. The victim will start blaming themselves and this will lead to suicidal thoughts. The constant demeaning can make self harm a good substitute for their pain, they might get addicted to self harm just so they can escape their reality for a few minutes.
One of the major effects of sexual abuse is unplanned or teenage pregnancy. When a person is not in their right mind to take care of themselves, how can they take care of a newborn baby? The victim of sexual abuse might harm themselves or go for an abortion. If they are not going for abortion then, they have to deal with the unplanned pregnancy.
Sleepless nights will be their companion for a long period of time. They will get flashbacks and nightmares from that incident. This will not let them move on, so they will prefer not to sleep at all instead of reliving those moments even in their nightmares. Even if they do fall asleep, it will be the result of them consuming sleeping pills.
How can you help someone who has been subjected to sexual abuse?
If you know someone who has been through sexual abuse then there are somethings that you can do to make sure they are recovering well and they are not looking for substitutes to numb their pain. Following are some useful tips on how you can help someone who has been subjected to sexual abuse.
- Talk to them only if they want to
- Educate yourself
- Encourage them
- Be a source of support
- Compliment their recovery
Talk to them only if they want to:
It will never be easy for them to open up to you about their emotions and you must never pressurize them. Do not force them into sharing their feelings with you, you have to understand that this is already a very sensitive time for them. Let them take their time and come to you. You have to be patient with them and listen to their story.
It is extremely important for you to know what you are dealing with. Do your research and educate yourself about different laws on sexual abuse, support groups, organizations, and helplines. Let your friend know that he/she is not alone.
It is important for you to encourage them on little things that they do. This will help them heal more quickly knowing that there is someone so is there for them, encouraging them. Respect their choices and let them make their own decisions. This will encourage them into thinking that they are not doing anything wrong.
Be a source of support:
You must understand that they are already scared of letting people in as they believe people are going to judge them because they have been sexually abused. So, it is important that you let them know that you are not a critic but a source of support for them. Be there for them at every step and make them feel comfortable with you. This will help them open up with you about their emotions.
Compliment their recovery:
If you want to help someone recover from that incident then you must be patient with them and be a source of support for them. It is already very hard for them, a little compliment from you can encourage them to move forward in their life. This will give them confidence and they will slowly start to get out of their shell.
Sexual abuse is one of the most traumatic forms of abuse. It can make a person feel isolated, depressed, anxious, and stressed. It can also give them vaginal infections, HIV, STDs, and unplanned pregnancy.
Although a person will try to hide that they have been abused sexually at first but, the physical and emotional signs will make it prominent for the friends and family to notice that something is wrong. Bruises on their entire body and their anxiety after having a nightmare or isolating themselves will give it away.
The victim of sexual abuse is already going through a lot both physically and emotionally. So, do not pressurize them into sharing their feelings with you. Let them take their time and be patient with them. They will be dealing with depression and trust issues after their abuse so, being a source of support for them really means a lot. Once they start opening up to you then, you can ask them anything, but most importantly you must listen to what they have to say.