What You Need To Know About Coping With Sexual Violence

Sexual violence (or sexual assault) is defined as any sexually suggestive contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. Sexual assault not only includes the act of forced penetration (rape), but also forcing oral sex, unwanted fondling or touching, using or withholding sexual acts as a form of punishment or manipulation, and stalking. The effects of sexual violence can manifest for years after the victim experiences the trauma and can include a range of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:

As we acknowledge sexual assault awareness and prevention month, we’re outlining how you can cope with the mental aftermath of sexual assault—and ways you can offer your support to a loved one who is coping.

Facts about sexual violence  

Unfortunately, sexual violence is more common than most people are aware. In a 2015 survey, 1 in 5 women and 1 and 14 men reported experiencing sexual violence, with nearly 80% of responders reporting that they experienced a completed or attempted rape before the age of 25. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, those with low socioeconomic status, and those of certain ethnic groups all experience sexual violence at a higher rate. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men reported experiencing sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

Fact: It is a common misconception that rape or other forms of sexual assault cannot happen if you are in a relationship or have had consensual sex with the person before. Any forced sexual act that is against your will is sexual violence.

Fact: “Date rape” is never a “misunderstanding”. This term is often used when sexual violence occurs with someone you are newly acquainted with. The victim is usually in a mind-altered state with substances that they may or may not be aware of. Offenders will often gaslight their victims into believing that they “made a drunken mistake” or that the victim doesn’t remember consenting.

Fact: Sexual assault is not caused by what you wear, what you say, where you are, your behavior, or circumstances. It is important to remember that the sexual violence you experienced was not your fault.

How to report sexual abuse or assault

No matter how long it has been since you were assaulted, you have the right to report any abuse or assault you believe you experienced. If you think you may be injured or in danger, dial 911 (you can also call 911 from a cell phone not in service, as long as it has battery life). In any other situation, you can start the process by contacting your local police department or by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. You can learn more about the specific process of filing a police report and evidence collection here. The hotline is available 24/7 and is free and completely confidential.

How to cope with the aftermath of sexual violence

Coping with the repercussions of sexual violence is sometimes a long and challenging road. It is different for each person and every situation, but here are some great coping techniques you can start now:

Mental health support

Therapists have special training to counsel you through your recovery from sexual violence and can work with you either individually or in group settings. Therapy will help you develop healthy coping skills and move past the trauma that has disrupted your life. If you or someone you know is in the Nevada or California areas and has experienced sexual violence, reach out to Medens Health via our contact page or call (833) 624-5400.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.