Sexual assault, also called sexual abuse, is any unlawful sexual contact that consists of applying force to a person without his/ her consent or imposing such contact to a person who is unable to give consent due to physical or mental disabilities or age. Sexual assault is from different from rape, whereas the latter is a type of the former. Other types of sexual assault include attempted rape, incest or sexual contact with a child, exposing own body to another person, malicious body touching one’s self or making another person touch one’s body, and watching and photographing another person in sexual situations.
It is astounding to find out that statistics show that one out of every four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, wherein half of the assaults occur against women under the age of 16. Fifty-one percent of Canadian women have said that they have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since reaching 16 years of age. Usually, these sexual assaults are done by persons who know their victims, whether as an acquaintance, or family friend, or relative, or even own partners. But it can also be done by strangers. (Source: Sexual Assault Center of Hamilton Ontario, Canada)
What are the Symptoms Exhibited by Victims of Sexual Assault?
Most women do not report cases of sexual assault as they fear shame and judgment. However, it is necessary to seek medical and mental-health care for victims of sexual assault. It is noted that the earlier the treatment, the better the recovery time. Symptoms of victims of sexual assault include:
- Fear and anxiety
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
What is the Treatment for Sexual Assault Victims?
The following steps are recommended to be done immediately for a person who is a victim of sexual assault:
- Get away from the attacked and find a safe place that you can stay in until help arrives. Call the local emergency number and report the case. If one is unsure of the number, call a trusted person.
- Do not tamper with evidence. Protect any possible evidence by not changing clothes or cleaning any part of the body.
- Go to an emergency room to prevent any unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Traces of the perpetrator may also be collected such as, clothing fibre, hair strands, saliva, and semen.
- Calm and comfort the victim. Assure the victim that this was not his/ her fault in any way. Ongoing emotional support can be very helpful for sexually assaulted victims.
How can Sexual Assault be prevented?
Although it can never be guaranteed, taking several precautions can reduce risks of being sexually assaulted. These include:
- Do not drink beyond one’s alcohol limits. About a third of all cases involve alcohol intoxication.
- Avoid leaving social events with someone you just met. Fifty percent of all rapes are date rapes. Learn about date rape drugs that are often used.
- Park cars in well-lighted areas.
- Always keep the home and car doors locked and ready the keys when approaching the door to save time staying outside.
- Look for signs that one is in an unhealthy, abusive relationship.
To learn how to properly approach and give support to victims of sexual assault, enrol in First Aid Training and CPR courses to be prepared of future incidences.