Risky behaviors as a coping mechanism
Additionally, many people engage in risky behaviors to try and deal with their traumatic experiences. Survivors may turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with the trauma of sexual assault. Substance abuse can impair judgment and decision-making, increasing the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors.
Unsafe sexual practices is another common risky behavior. Not using condoms or engaging in sex with multiple partners allows some to feel in control of their sexual experiences. They may also engage in sexual behavior as a way to seek validation or to feel desired. Survivors of sexual trauma may engage in self-harm behaviors, such as cutting or burning themselves, to cope with the emotional pain.
Unhealthy relationships are another coping mechanism. Survivors may seek out relationships with people who exhibit controlling or abusive behavior, as these dynamics can feel familiar and provide a sense of control.
Why Sexual Assault Impacts Mental Health
Sexual assault can have significant and long-lasting impacts on mental health. Here are some of the reasons why:
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that can have a profound effect on an individual’s psychological well-being. Trauma can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Shame and guilt
Survivors of sexual assault may experience feelings of shame and guilt, which can lead to negative self-perception and impact mental health.
Disruption of trust
Sexual assault can shatter an individual’s sense of confidence in themselves, others, and the world around them. This can make it challenging to form close relationships and lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Fear and hypervigilance
Survivors of sexual assault may experience fear and hypervigilance, meaning they are constantly on guard for potential threats. This can lead to various mental healthissues, including anxiety, panic attacks, and sleep disturbances.
Physical health issues
Sexual assault can also lead to physical health issues, such as chronic pain, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems, which can impact mental health.
These long-term impacts can be debilitating, affecting relationships with family and friends and impacting employment and all other aspects of life.
The importance of seeking help
It’s essential to seek mental health treatment after being sexually assaulted because the trauma can have a profound and long-lasting impact on your psychological well-being. Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that can lead to a range of symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental health treatment can help develop coping strategies to manage these symptoms and improve overall well-being.
Healing from the trauma of sexual assault is a complex process that can take time. Mental health treatment can help you work through emotions and experiences in a safe and supportive environment. Left untreated, the impact of sexual assault can lead to long-term mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Seeking mental healthtreatment early can help reduce the risk of developing these issues.
Seeking mental health treatment is a personal decision, and there is no right or wrong way to heal from the trauma of sexual assault. However, seeking professional support can be crucial to healing.
Serene Health is here for you. We provide behavioral health and mental health services designed to help those who have experienced trauma or abuse and need support in their journey toward healing. Our clinicians are dedicated to providing a space for clients to feel safe, comfortable, and unconditionally supported as they work through their trauma.
We also have flexible appointments available through our Telehealth platform so you can speak to a therapist online from the comfort of your home. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment.