SEXUAL ASSAULT – Physical, Emotional/Psychological and  Physiological Effects, Treatment and Prevention of Assault

Sexual assault is defined as any sexual behavior that makes a person feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened. It is sexual activity to which a person does not consent. It ranges from inappropriate touching to penetration or intercourse. It also can be verbal, visual, audio or any other form which forces a person to participate in unwanted sexual contact or attention.

All forms of sexual assault are crimes. Sexual assault can include any adult sexual activity. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape, anal contact or penetration (sodomy), oral contact of the male on the genitalia of the female (cunnilingus), oral contact of the female on the genitalia of the male (fellatio), hand to genitalia contact (masturbation, fondling, or penetration), sexual harassment, stalking, child molestation, voyeurism, exhibitionism, incest and sexual harassment. It can happen in different situations, such as: date rape, domestic or intimate partner violence or by a stranger.


Possible Physical Effects of Sexual Assault

  • Pain
  • Injuries
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches


Possible Emotional/Psychological Effects of Sexual Assault

  • Shock/denial
  • Irritability/anger
  • Depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Numbing/apathy (detachment, loss of caring)
  • Restricted affect (reduced ability to express emotions)
  • Nightmares/flashbacks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Diminished interest in activities or sex
  • Loss of self esteem
  • Loss of security/loss of trust in others
  • Guilt/shame/embarrassment
  • Impaired memory
  • Loss of appetite
  • Suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide and death)\
  • Substance abuse
  • Psychological disorders


Possible Physiological Effects of Sexual Assault

  • Hypervigilance (always being “on your guard”)
  • Insomnia
  • Exaggerated startle response (jumpiness)
  • Panic attacks
  • Eating problems/disorders
  • Self-mutilation (cutting, burning or otherwise hurting oneself)
  • Sexual dysfunction (not being able to perform sexual acts)
  • Hyperarousal (exaggerated feelings/responses to stimuli)



  1. If you have been sexually assaulted, you should be examined and treated for sexually transmitted diseases with antibiotics. See a health care provider as soon as possible and get checked again in 2 weeks to make sure that no sexually transmitted diseases have developed
  2. Most women are given emergency contraception in the form of birth control pills that decrease the chance that pregnancy will result from the assault
  3. You may be treated for hepatitis B infection if the assailant is likely to have had hepatitis (a series of shots over 2 months)
  4. You will be tested for AIDS and pregnancy (for women). AIDS testing should be repeated every 3 months for 6 months. If it has been 6 months and you have not had a positive HIV test, it is not likely that any infection occurred or will occur.
  5. You should get counseling and the incident should be discussed. Sexual assault is an awful experience. The goal for all victims is to recover and put the bad event behind them



Take care at all times to identify people and situations that may lead to sexual assault. The chances of being a victim can be lowered by following these practices:


  1. Train in self-defense. Use self-control when drinking alcohol
  2. Use common sense in choosing the people you associate with
  3. Avoid potentially dangerous situations when outside or in your house (answering the door) and when interacting with strangers anywhere
  4. Avoid intimate or solo contact with people that you do not know well
  5. If a person is making unwelcome sexual advances, no matter how minor, take action in the earliest stages and make every effort to disassociate from that person
  6. At social events, be careful about what you consume and who has access to your drinks
  7. Avoid extreme intoxication in which you lose control, especially when you are not in a protected environment
  8. Adopt an approach in dating and getting to know people that involve postponing being alone together, intimacy and sexual interaction until you feel you have gotten to know person very well
  9. When intimacy is initiated between consenting parties, make limitations on what you want to do known, make them clear early in the encounter, and send clear messages to the other person about your feelings
  10. Think about how you would react in an assault situation in advance and use that plan early and without reservation​
nurseinfo nursing notes for bsc, p.c. or p.b. bsc, msc and gnm nursing
SEXUAL ASSAULT – Physical, Emotional/Psychological and Physiological Effects, Treatment and Prevention of Assault

SEXUAL ASSAULT – Physical, Emotional/Psychological and  Physiological Effects, Treatment and Prevention of Assault