Sexual violence can happen in a victim’s home, at a victim’s school, at a victim’s workplace, or anywhere in public. The truth is that anyone can become a victim of sexual violence. Although most people imagine a stranger when they picture who a perpetrator of sexual violence might be, the sad truth is that violence is most often perpetrated by people close to the victim - be that a boyfriend or girlfriend, a parent, a spouse or other close family member. This does not, however, rule out the possibility of a rape being committed by a person who is completely unknown to the victim. In terms of criminal law, sexual violence committed by someone close to the victim is considered just as severe as violence committed by a stranger.
The predominant, typical form of such violence is perpetrated by men against women. However, there are also cases where women commit sexual violence against men, and there are cases of sexual violence between persons of the same sex, or between generations of the same family. Specific groups targeted for such violence include, among others, people living with disabilities and representatives of the LGBT community. Nonprofit organizations aiding the victims of rape and sexual abuse also provide services to such persons.
What does a victim of sexual violence experience?
Coping internally with such a traumatic life experience tends to follow a predictable course. However, this is a demanding process. It happens that some people do not undergo all the stages of such coping and therefore develop post-traumatic stress disorder. In these cases, the trauma experienced has not yet been meaningfully incorporated by the victim into her/his life story and is therefore painfully and repeatedly recalled.
People who have experienced sexual trauma are caught between the desire to tell someone about their experience and other feelings of disgust, fear and shame. They are caught between blaming themselves and wishing they would die. They are not open to those around them, they do not express any emotions, and they want to create the impression that everything is fine with them. Their inner feelings, however, are just the opposite of fine. They are angry with themselves, they are still unable to forget the trauma, and it returns to them in the form of anxiety attacks, fear, flashbacks, nightmares and panic. They sometimes have problems with food and sleep. They are eager to enjoy life and forget what happened, but at the same time they are unable to do so. This contradiction leads to the victims experiencing powerful waves of anger that are either never displayed externally or are only partially displayed externally. On the contrary, the victims turn that anger against themselves to a greater extent, and it has a destructive power.
Anyone can become a victim of sexual violence.
If you are experiencing something like this, do not be afraid to seek professional aid.