Sexual violence is a public health problem that can have harmful and lasting consequences. Victims, perpetrators, families, and communities all feel the effects of this devastating issue. Repeated or a single incident of sexual violence can negatively impact health in many ways and can cause life-long problems.
Some effects of sexual violence for the victims can be immediate and long-term physical injuries, such as bruises, cuts, chronic pain, gynecological and pregnancy problems, back and stomach pain, headaches, and sexually transmitted diseases. Sexual violence can also have emotional impacts, with many victims experiencing depression, anger, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide. Victims may try to cope with their trauma in unhealthy ways by smoking, drinking, or taking drugs.
Sexual violence also strains family relationships and can contribute to friends and families feeling guilt, sadness, and worry. The costs associated with responding to victims and perpetrators can create a heavy financial burden on community resources.
Knowledge about what works to prevent sexual violence is beginning to emerge. By continuing to study sexual violence, we can design and test strategies that stop sexual violence, before it happens.
For more information about sexual violence and its consequences, please visit CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention website.