Sexual assault is defined as the act of intentionally touching another person sexually without the person’s consent or coercing a person to engage in a sexual act without their explicit permission. Sexual assault is a broad term that covers a wide range of issues from rape to unwanted and forceful penetrations either vaginal, oral or anal penetrations or drug-facilitated assault.
People who partake in this condemning act, use it as a way of asserting their power or control over other people.
Often we interchangeably use the terms sexual violence, sexual harassment and sexual abuse. These three terms cover a broader range of issues, but most times, sexual assault and the term rape overlaps because sexual assault includes rape.
Effects of sexual assault
No two people who have experienced sexual assault react the same way. While some are mentally and physically strong to withstand the aftermath of sexual assault, others may not be strong enough.
As the body and mind process the event, it affects the victims physically, emotionally and mentally, and it tells on their health, education, career, finance and the society at large. Sexual assault affects not just the victims but also their families, and its consequences are usually complex and challenging to deal with in most situations.
Some of the effects of sexual assault on the victims are:
Victims of sexual assault always feel that the incident was their fault. It is difficult for them to place the blame on the offender.
This is a long term effect of sexual assault. Victims find it difficult to be in relationships with the opposite sex because of what has happened. And even when they finally decide to be in one, it’s usually unstable.
This is because they no longer trust the opposite sex and feel if they get too close, the incident might repeat itself. Therefore, they do everything within their power to avoid any form of physical contact and are scared of being alone with their partner.
Trust is one attribute that we as humans take seriously. Once the trust we have in someone is broken, we find it very difficult to trust that person again.
If without being sexually assaulted, we find it difficult to trust some certain people how much more victims of sexual assault. They find it difficult trusting people again after the incident; that’s why they tend to have unstable relationships.
Sexual assault victims are always in fear. They are always on high alert and are careful with the kind of people they associate with out of the fear of being assaulted again.
Victims who survived sexual assault tend to withdraw from social activities and isolate themselves after the incident. For example, if an extrovert who is good at making new friends and is assaulted by one of those friends, he/she would never want to make friends or establish close contact with people again.
A lot of people have insomnia; they find it difficult to sleep, but victims of sexual assault suffer from the worst insomnia. They rarely sleep, and whenever they do all they get are flashbacks of how the incident occurred, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The physical effects of sexual assault are alarming and terrific. Victims suffer from panic attacks after remembering the incident; they suffer high blood pressure and depression and sometimes eating disorders.
How to prevent Sexual Assault
Everyone has a role to play I’m preventing Sexual assault. The Public should be well informed and enlightened on the dangers of sexual assault and other improper sexual acts. Sexual Enlightenment programmes should be done to educate the youths, teens and adults on these issues.
Teach your children and teens
Parents and guardians should teach their children and teens about sex so they can know and understand when someone is trying to take advantage of them. Let your teens know that anybody who tries to touch them without their consent should be reported to the proper authorities.
Trust your instincts
If you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t feel right and you keep feeling queasy about that situation, find a way to get yourself out of there by all means.
Avoid being alone with people you don’t know
Avoid putting yourself in difficult positions. If you don’t know and you don’t trust the person you are with, take your leave. Most times even those we know can also assault us sexually so if you don’t trust the person either a friend, family member, relatives or whoever they may be, avoid being a lonely place with them all by yourself.
Be aware of your environment
Take note of your environment and the people in it. Make sure you are confident and aware of your surroundings most, especially when you are in places you are not familiar with.
If you are attending a social gathering always makes sure you go with a friend, your cellphone and some cash. Ensure you open your drinks yourself, don’t accept drinks from strangers and don’t drink too much.
Always keep your family and friends posted
If you are going to be away for a long time and going somewhere you haven’t gone before, do well to inform your family, friends, spouse and anybody you know you can trust.
Make sure to tell them of your whereabouts and a contact address just in case you need their help during emergencies.
What to do if you have been a victim of sexual assault
Find a safe place
If you have been sexually assaulted, look for a safe and secure place to sit and gather your thoughts. You can call someone you are comfortable with to come to pick you up and take you home.
Inform your family and friends
Make sure you open up to your family and close friends so they can render all the help they can and assist you in getting through the trauma.
If you can’t trust your family or friends to handle the situation or understand you, you can always talk to a counsellor.
Get medical attention
Go to a clinic and get yourself tested for possible infections, STDs if penetration occurred for you to be on the safer side.
Attend self-defence classes
If you’ve been assaulted before it’s important you attend self-defence classes for your own protection as well as enlightenment programmes on rape, sexual assault, and harassment. Here you will be taught how to defend yourself and what you do if you find yourself in such situations.