Learn / believe

Effects of Sexual Violence

Whether you or someone you know was raped, sexually assaulted or abused recently or historically, this may be impacting you or them in various ways.


  • Guilt, self blame, shame
  • Embarrassment & Sadness
  • Confusion, shock & disbelief
  • Numbness & anger
  • Vulnerability & lack of control
  • Denial
  • Disengaged with normal routine or relationships
  • You may feel suicidal


  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety  & Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental Health diagnosis i.e Dissociative Identity Disorder).


  • Changes in sleeping or eating
  • Self Harm/ Self Injury
  • Pregnancy, STI or HIV
  • Physical injuries
  • Orgasm (This is a body reaction, this does not mean you gave consent or enjoyed it)

Everyone’s experience of Sexual Violence is different.

How people react in that moment is their body’s natural reaction to trauma, it’s something we cannot control.

Freeze, Flight, Fight or Friend responses are commonly referred to as the body’s automatic, built in reactions to danger or fear.

These are natural survival responses and under no circumstances is this consent.


  • Going tense, silent and still.
  • Unable to move, often people feel like they ‘float above their body’
  • Muscles become Loose and body goes floppy, this is a natural reaction to reduce pain of what is happening to you. Also known as ‘Flop’.


  • Backing away, hiding, running or walking away.
  • Throwing objects for distraction to create opportunity to get away


  • Fighting, pushing and struggling
  • Verbally saying ‘No’, ‘Get off’, etc.


  • Calling or shouting for someone you know or a bystander to intervene
  • ‘Befriending’ the perpetrator, pleading, bribing, negotiating or pacifying. 

What are Triggers?

When we experience trauma, our brain often stores the memory based on what our senses are exposed to at that time. When our brain recognises similarities between our current situation and our past trauma, it can activate triggers and cause Flashbacks, anxiety or panic attacks.

Forms of Triggers can be:

  • Anniversary Dates
  • Smells
  • Songs
  • Noises
  • Colours
  • Touch

What is a Flashback?

Flashbacks can happen at anytime, when you are sad, happy, relaxed or tense.

It may feel like you are experiencing trauma all over again and you body may react the same way.

This can be extremely upsetting and scary, often survivors have described flashbacks as if they are right back there, hearing voices, noises, smells and touch.

Flashbacks are very common for anyone who has experienced trauma and it is a symptom of Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It is important to remember it is not your fault.

You are not alone and support is available.

What is Grounding Techniques?

Grounding techniques can be used when someone is feeling strong emotions in the form of a flashback, panic attack or anxiety.

These techniques will help someone feel connected to the ‘here and now’, feel in control and calm.

  • You are in a Safe Space. (It is important to remind someone that they are not in present danger, that they are safe. That is their body’s natural reaction to a trigger.)
  • Get them to concentrate on a mental task (Say the alphabet, Mathematics, list what they need to make a recipe etc)
  • Breathe (Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, focus on breathing for a while)
  • Get them to clench their fist and release. (Repeat this and focus on slow release with breathing)
  • Safety Statements (Get them to repeat I am In a Safe Space now.)

It is important to remember it is not your fault.

You are not alone and support is available.


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