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Victims of sexual assault may suffer years of anguish

We know that Dallas, Texas, is the not the only city with sexual abuse victims; it is widespread in our nation. But what many people who have never suffered through a sexual assault, a physical molestation or other kind of physical abuse may not understand is the severe emotional issues that can follow these victims through life.

In the event of rape or physical abuse, there may be immediate physical injuries, such as bruises, broken bones, contusions and even long-lasting physical damage. Hopefully, the damage is not severe enough that it will not heal, but in some instances, it can be.

What is usually more long-lasting for victims of these types of crimes is the emotional damage. Victims of sexual assault find themselves in a situation in which they have no control. According to the Joyful Heart Association, their ability to "fight or flee" sometimes short circuits during the actual act — and that short circuit does not always heal for some time, if ever.

After effects can cause a number of mental issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, disassociation and psychological fears that have no basis. In addition, emotional outbreaks of anger, distrust and panic attacks may occur. Victims may experience reoccurring nightmares or fear of leaving their house.

Sexual assault may also result in venereal diseases, infections or even pregnancy. This adds to the stress. Many victims also blame themselves and have self-confidence issues.

These mental residuals can result in significant changes to a person’s life. They can affect a victim’s ability to concentrate and focus, which in turn may affect his or her ability to work. A very productive individual may find he or she is unable to function in everyday activities. Ongoing mental issues must be treated, which can be expensive and time consuming. The patient usually requires ongoing counseling and medications to reduce stress, depression or anxiety and often to help with sleep disorders.

Some victims receive a small amount of closure if their perpetrator is caught, convicted and imprisoned. However, in light of possible ongoing expenses for medical and mental treatment, especially in the event that job stability is in question, suing for financial compensation may be an option to consider.

Source: Joyful Heart Foundation, "Effects of Sexual Assault and Rape" Sep. 11, 2014

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