Survivor Responses

Sexual violence can have immediate, short term and long term effects on survivors. Below are just some of those effects and is not meant to be an exhaustive listing. If you need assistance at any time, resources are available for health and well-being.

Immediate psychological consequences Mental chronic psychological consequences
Social   Health Behaviors


Immediate psychological consequences include

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Fear of being alone, going outside, or to gatherings with others
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal
  • Guilt
  • Distrust of others
  • Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Emotional detachment
  • Sleeping too much, difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting out of bed.
  • Flashbacks
  • Mental replay of assault

Mental chronic psychological consequences include

  • Depression
  • Attempted or completed suicide
  • Alienation
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Unhealthy diet-related behaviors
  • Fasting
  • Vomiting
  • Overeating
  • Exacerbated abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
  • First time alcohol and/or drug use which frequents becomes chronically abusive


  • Strained relationships with the survivor’s family, friends, and intimate partners
  • Abandonment by friends
  • Less emotional support from friends and family
  • Less frequent contact with friends and relatives
  • Lower likelihood of marriage (Clements at al. 2004; Golding, Wilsnack, and Cooper 2002)

Health Behaviors

Some researchers view the following health behaviors as both consequences of sexual violence and factors that increase a person's vulnerability to being victimized again in the future (Brener et al. 1999; Lang et al. 2003).
Engaging in high-risk sexual behavior including:

  • Unprotected sex
  • Early sexual initiation
  • Choosing unhealthy sexual partners
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Trading sex for food, money, or other items
  • Using or abusing harmful substances, including:
    • Smoking cigarettes
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Driving after drinking alcohol
    • Taking drugs (Champion et al. 2004; Jewkes, Sen, and Garcia-Moreno 2002; Raj, Silverman, and Amaro 2000)