What is sexual assault and what are its effects?

What does sexual assault mean?

The term ‘sexual assault’ spreads over a wide range of unwanted and undesirable sexual behaviors that are often availed by offenders as a way to assert power and authority to threaten and scare their helpless victims. Sexual assault includes:

  • Rape: unwanted forced sex or sexual acts
  • Child sexual abuse: using physical strength and power over a child to involve the child in sexual activities.
  • Indecent assault: indecent behavior prior, present and post-assault

Why do people sexually assault others?

Sexual assault is a severe crime is never the fault of the victim. Sexual assault isn’t always about offenders gaining pleasure from intercourse, instead due to enjoyment asserting power and authority over someone weaker. Offenders resort to this due to their prior history of abuse themselves, but this isn’t always the case.

Myths and facts about sexual assault

Myth: Only women can be sexually assaulted

Fact: Men and women can be victims of sexual assault as the offender can be of any gender or sexual orientation.

Myth: Women falsely accuse men of sexual assault to gain attention

Fact: Majority of sexual assault cases are genuine as many victims whether male or female fail to report it for fear of not being believed.

Myth: Most rapists are strangers

Fact: Most of the offenders are in some way or the other known by the victim.

Myth: It is not sexual assault if you are a couple or married

Fact: Unwanted sexual activity in any relationship is considered an attack.

Myth: If you are wearing sexy clothing, you are partly responsible

Fact: Survivors of sexual assaults are never to blame or be at fault and held accountable for someone trying to violate them.

How might sexual assault affect you?

Everyone reacts and responds to sexual assault differently. The following responses are typical:

Shock and denial

Do you tend to ask yourself questions like why me? Or why did this happen to me?


You may experience fear of the offender, being alone or not being believed.


You cannot talk about the assault in fear of being judged.


You feel unsafe or unable to relax.


You experience feelings of sadness or loneliness.

Guilt and blame

You keep asking yourself why did you go to that scene or why did you allow it to happen

Low self-esteem

You lost self-confidence and experience emotions of shame, violation and deemed unworthy.


You tend to be alone and want to isolate from friends and family.

Nightmares and flashbacks

You experience flashbacks of the trauma in your daily life and sleep.

Mood swings

You observe you change your emotions from anger to rage then to tears despair, and repeat.

Loss of confidence

You worry about lack of ability to work efficiently or lack of confidence with friends and family.

Loss of trust

You find it difficult to trust people in your social circle or family.

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