Challenges for Survivors/Victims of Sexual Assault

Survivors/victims of sexual assault face many obstacles. The assault can leave lasting emotional effects, which may manifest as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, substance abuse issues, self-injury, depression, sleep disorders, eating disorders, suicidal ideation, and more. It can also result in physical problems, such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and wounds.

Survivors/victims can also face obstacles presented by other people. If they confide in somebody that they have been assaulted, it’s possible that the other person will not believe them or will tell them that it was their fault they were victimized. People can make jokes that make light of what happened to them or trigger an intense emotional response in them. It may be difficult for them to locate good legal, medical, and counseling resources, especially as people working in these fields can present them with the same obstacles they encounter with other people.

If you or someone you know is a survivor/victim of sexual assault, it is important to know that there are ways to overcome these challenges. On the University of Washington campus, SARIS (Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Information Service) is available to aid survivors/victims in finding support, advocacy, and additional resources (such as the ones on this page). In the case of a medical emergency, whether physical or psychological, it is imperative to call 911.

*please note: None of these experiences are universal. Every person has their own story and may or may not experience the traits described above.