Trauma from Sexual Violence

Posted on September 13, 2018

Women who were victims of sexual abuse in their teenage years, are more prone to experience the same negative thoughts over and over and highly intense flashbacks of pressurizing situations in their lives as compared to women were not victims of sexual abuse. Women who were victims of sexual abuse usually faced this traumatic experience during their teenage years or early adulthood, however only a few tend to develop PTSD or showed signs of PTSD. Despite so, they still run a higher risk of developing certain disorders.

Constantly thinking about negative experiences and feeling heavy emotional impact from traumatic and highly stressful experiences are common signs of PTSD experienced by women who were victims of sexual abuse. Negative emotions generated from the sexual trauma might also be felt again when one is reminded of other traumatic experiences they have faced in the past. Many might feel the same level of negative impact from traumatic experiences, but victims of sexual abuse remember their traumatic experiences more clearly and detailed and showed to be more heavily impacted.

Women who suffered sexual abuse tend to overthink and feel depressed more frequent than women who had never experienced sexual abuse. There is also a link between having experiences with sexual abuse and signs of anxiety and depression.

One way to help women get over their traumatic experience of sexual abuse is through Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET). During the therapy, individuals who experienced trauma are told to constantly think about that traumatic experience until it starts to disappear and become less reachable, hence alleviating any negative emotions like anxiety and fear. However, this treatment is not suitable for everyone as it is costly, time-consuming and emotionally burdensome, and not everyone can handle that.

Researchers are currently looking into other forms of treatment for victims of sexual abuse. Besides targeting the memory aspect, researchers created a programme that focuses on victims’ urge to think and dwell deep into their traumatic experiences. It is designed to lower the frequency of victims recalling their trauma from the past. This programme is a Mental and Physical training (MAP) where it involves silent meditation and aerobic exercises. It has been proven to be effective and a suitable form of treatment to help people recover from sexual abuse.


Category(s):Abuse / Abuse Survivor Issues, Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions, Adult psychological development, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD, Sexual Abuse, Women's Issues

Source material from Psychology Today


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