Was I assaulted ?


Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. This includes sexual contact made by opportunity (e.g. you were intoxicated and could not say no), coercion, intimidation, threats or the use of force. It is important to remember that sexual assault takes many forms, some of which do not involve penetration. Grabbing someone’s breasts, genitals or buttocks is sexual assault, so is someone making you touch them for a sexual purpose. You have been sexually assaulted if someone forces you to kiss or fondle them, to have anal, oral, or vaginal intercourse or to participate in any other type of sexual activity without your consent.

In the short term, physical effects may include pain and bodily injuries especially if the abuse involved physical force. Specific physical effects may include: bruising, broken bones, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, nausea, vomiting, muscle tension, fatigue, shortness of breath and headaches.

In the long term, some of these effects may persist and other effects may include; disturbed sleep patterns, nightmares, insomnia, loss of appetite, stomach pains and gastrointestinal or gynaecological issues.

Some short term emotional reactions may include
• Self-blame
• Shame, guilt, or embarrassment
• Anxiety, stress, or fear
• Shock
• Impaired memory, confusion, or disorientation
• Anger, hostility, or aggression
• Disturbed sleep, insomnia, or nightmares
• Flashbacks or panic attacks

Some longer term effects may include
• Sexualized behaviours
• Loss of sex drive
• Interpersonal problems
• Denial
• Irritability
• Erratic mood swings
• Depression or despair
• Social withdrawal
• Decreased energy and motivation
• Disturbed sleep, insomnia, or nightmares
• Flashbacks or panic attacks
• Guilt/self-blame
• Numbing/apathy (detachment, loss of caring)
• Restricted affect (reduced ability to express emotions)
• Difficulty concentrating
• Diminished interest in activities
• Loss of self-esteem
• Loss of security
• Loss of appetite, eating problems/disorders, or gastrointestinal disturbance
• Substance use and abuse (alcohol and other drugs) and other compulsive behaviours
• Feeling powerless
• Feeling uncomfortable being alone
• Self-injury, self-mutilation (cutting, burning or otherwise hurting oneself), or substance abuse
• Suicidal thought or ideation
• Extreme dependency
• Body memories
• Feelings of alienation and isolation
• Hyper-vigilance (always being “on guard”)
• Exaggerated startle response (jumpiness)
• Hyper-arousal (exaggerated feelings or responses to stimuli)
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)