Psychological Effects of Sexual Assault | Mental Health Blog
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Psychological Effects of Sexual Assault

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Psychological Effects of Sexual Assault

For victims of sexual assault or sexual abuse, the impact doesn’t just end when the physical effects heal.

The memory of the traumatic event can haunt them and cause adverse and long-lasting effects on their mental health. Whether you are a survivor yourself or know someone who has been a victim of sexual assault, it is important to recognize and address the psychological effects of sexual assault as well.

Mental Health and Sexual Assault

According to RAINN, every 92 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in the United States.1 Of those victims of sexual assault, most will experience some kind of negative effect on their mental health. One survey that focused on teenage girls who had been sexually assaulted found that after a few months following the event, 80% of them developed one mental health disorder and 55% had at least two mental health disorders.2

Effects of Sexual Assault on Mental Health

When something as traumatic as sexual assault occurs, the effects that follow can include a whirlwind of mixed emotions and consequently long-lasting mental health problems. As a residential mental health center in South Florida, we have worked with victims of sexual assault and have seen these devastating effects up close.

Some of the most common psychological effects sexual assault victims experience include:

  • Feelings of shame or guilt
  • Social isolation or withdrawal
  • Problems sleeping
  • Eating disorders
  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Avoidance of certain places/things related to the event
  • Anxiety disorders
  • PTSD
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts or actions

Unfortunately, most victims will experience these effects in some capacity. While many common psychological effects of sexual assault include feelings of shame, guilt, or fear, these emotions may be more fleeting and get better as time goes on. In many other cases, the effects are more severe. One study found that victims of sexual assault were significantly more likely to experience anxiety disorders, eating disorders, PTSD, sleep disorders, depression, and suicidal attempts than the average population.3 Without professional mental health treatment, it could lead to devastating results. Some people may even develop a substance abuse disorder as a way to escape their overwhelming feeling or as a way to try to cope with them.

No matter if your loved one is experiencing the psychological effects of sexual assault or you are struggling with chronic depression, you should not ignore your mental health. At Banyan Mental Health, our anxiety, mood, and trauma disorder treatment programs in South Florida are designed to help you feel happier and stronger.

Get back your life today. The road to your recovery can start by calling 888-280-4763.


  1. RAINN - Statistics
  2. The Lancet- Mental and sexual health outcomes following sexual assault in adolescents: a prospective cohort study
  3. NCBI - Sexual Abuse and Lifetime Diagnosis of Psychiatric Disorders: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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