Sexual abuse of any kind is not simply a physical violence. It is also a violence of the mental well being of the person. Any person who has experienced any form of sexual violence may or may not bear the physical sequel of that act, but the mental trauma that they have experienced may haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Sexual abuse is said to be any form of sexual contact that you have not consented to. This is something that can happen to women as well as men, irrespective of sexual orientation. However in our country, the incidence of sexual abuse in women is much higher than that in men.
You may be experiencing sexual abuse if your partner has done or repeatedly does any of the following tactics of abuse:
- Forcing you to have intercourse with them
- Insulting you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names
- Forcing or manipulating you into to having sex or performing sexual acts
- Holding you down during sex
- Demanding sex when you’re sick, tired or after hurting you
- Hurting you with weapons or objects during sex
- Involving other people in sexual activities with you against your will
- Ignoring your feelings regarding sex
- Purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease to you
Sexual abuse, however just not limited to the above tactics. Any behavior of a person that may trick you, confuse you or force you to engage in any form sexual behavior that you have not explicitly consented to can be classified as sexual abuse.
Most of the time the abuser is a male, but in rare cases it can also be a female.
If you have experienced any form of sexual abuse, here are some things that you must always remember:
You are NOT at fault in any way, so do not blame yourself for anything that has happened
Experiencing something like this DOES NOT make you a bad person, or make your worth any less
If someone close to you, or someone you had trusted committed these acts, they have just broken your trust and what they have done is wrong. Being close to you or someone you trust does not excuse their actions
Don’t believe excuses that they “could not control their urges”. The person committing these types of acts usually knows what they are doing and in doing these acts, they have chosen to make ill use of their position, power and your trust
Don’t be afraid to speak up and seek help.
Always, ALWAYS remember – Shame on them….not you.
In the case of an incidence of sexual abuse, we urge you to contact the one-stop crisis center, BLAST, Ain O Shalish Kendra for legal actions or talk to your doctor for medical and professional assistance.
After sexual abuse
There is no particular way that a person who has experienced sexual abuse should behave. People have individual ways of dealing with the various upheavals in one’s lives and the changes in behavior after such an experience is just that – a normal human being reacting and coping in their own unique way. It should be remembered that these behaviors does not signify any illness, deficiencies or weakness, and also the behavior of such a person post-trauma is the effect of various factors. These factors include –
- the survivor’s association with the perpetrator
- the extent and severity of accompanying physical abuse or psychological harm
- the grievousness of the abuse;
- the degree of physical harm;
- the duration of time over which the victim endured this abuse
- the support of family and friends of the survivor;
the woman’s experience of the various health and legal systems (health, police, courts etc.) with which she may have contact following sexual abuse and the personal history of the survivor.
Psychological effects of sexual abuse
During the attack victims may experience –
- intense fear of death
Common immediate and short-term effects include
- Anxiety and intense fear
- Anything related to reminders of the attack (e.g. legal steps or medical procedures, being close to men, or being in a location that reminds them of the attack)
- Fear of STDs and/or pregnancy
- Fears of future attacks and other harm
- In some women, this kind of abuse tend to reaffirmed their assumptions that they are not worthy of anything better.
- Most lose their trust and perceive the world as an unsafe and dangerous place
Medium to long-term effects include –
- low self-esteem, self-blame and guilt for months and years
- denial of the incident
- ideas, thoughts and even attempts of suicide
Interaction with social and community
- Interpersonal relationships with spouses, significant others, as well as friendships and family relationships, can all be affected following sexual abuse. Difficulties with communication, intimacy, trust, specifically sexual relations and enjoyment of social activities can all be adversely affected.
- Women may particularly avoid social situations with men, due to a heightened awareness of the potential for violence that some men are capable of.
- Work and life as a whole may be hindered due to the survivor’s limited allowance of interactions.
Support from family and friends influence and aid the person in the road to recovery in great way.
Society and Sexual Abuse
Many incidents of sexual abuse either not reported to the appropriate authorities or are much delayed. This is because of the following causes:
- The survivors fear the prejudice of the society
In Bangladesh’s society where sex, sexual abuse and the likes are somewhat of a taboo topic, many people silently endure any such incident that they have undergone. Even if they do report it, they do so at the very last moment when no other way is open to them. It is sad but true that once the survivor reports any such incident, they start being ostracized by the society – either intentional or not.
- Relatives and family start to treat the survivor differently.
If his/her name comes up in a conversation, the “incident” is the first thing that everyone remembers about them. Whispered conversations regarding the survivor and his/her behavior takes place and their behavior before the incident is criticized, analysed and judged. The survivor is eventually accused of having invited the unwanted attention by his/ her behavior.
Human beings are social beings. So it is not surprising that that is why most people stay mum about such incidents.