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Sexual harassment associated with mental and physical trauma
Posted in Trauma - 0 Comments

Sexual harassment or any act akin to it can take place anywhere, including a workplace. Surprisingly, women still find it difficult to complain about such a behavior, fearing loss of employment. Intimidation of women with unwanted and continuing sexual advances is prevalent everywhere, be it offices, industries or political arena.

One category of women can be those who have encountered sexual harassment, but avoid recollecting the incidents, while there is another category which would continue to silently suffer the aftermath of such fearful experiences. Ways of sexual harassment include unwanted provocative remarks, indecent exposure, persuasive sexual activity, and in, extreme cases, sexual assault or rape.

Tracing the aftermath of sexual harassment

Research has pointed out how experiences of harassment, especially sexual abuse, can be extremely unnerving owing to the mental and physical trauma involved. Unwanted sexual advances are not limited to women of any particular section and are common to all ethnicities. Repetitive experiences of sexual abuse can be emotionally draining, and in most cases, result in signs of hidden trauma.

The effects of harassment may be prolonged if victims do not seek immediate professional help. Psychologists claim that the extent and nature of sexual abuse determine the degree of trauma suffered, irrespective of the number of times the woman is harassed. The resultant mental breakdown can affect workplace relationships, along with giving rise to several physiological and psychological health problems. Some of the common effects of sexual harassment on the survivors’ mental health include:

  • Depression: Studies show how persistent sexual harassment can result in signs of depression among its victims. Many people who face sexual harassment tend to doubt themselves. This turns into a self-blame game, pushing victims to the darkest depths of depressive disorder. Victims need to be advised about ill effects of self-blaming tendencies to avoid negative impact on their mental health.
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): The association between victimization due to sexual assault and signs of PTSD is common. People suffering from PTSD often exhibit symptoms like re-experiencing the trauma or avoiding people, things and circumstances that remind them of the incident. Studies have pinpointed as to how sexually harassed women are four times at a greater likelihood of being afflicted with emotional disorders like PTSD irrespective of previous traumatic experiences.
  • Insomnia: Sleep disturbances are common among victims of sexual harassment. Health care advocates explain that the stress and anxiety following the trauma of being harassed may make it difficult to sleep. Experts feel victims start ruminating about the event when they are alone at night, which affects their sleep pattern.
  • Suicidal ideation: Contemplation of suicide or decision to end life is a common feature seen among victims of sexual assault. Psychiatrists claim that most victims of sexual harassment who seek professional help tend to show suicidal behaviors. Research shows women who had experienced frequent unwanted touching self-reported to have attempted to end their lives compared to those who had not undergone such gruesome experience.

Recovery road map

It is necessary to recognize the incidents of sexual harassment and the psychological problems linked to it. Though both the genders face sexual assault in their workplace, women experience sexual assault at a higher rate. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), about 17 percent American women have been victims of an attempted or a completed rape in their lifetime.

Sovereign Health of Arizona understands the plight of a woman suffering from trauma after undergoing a sexual assault. Our trauma rehab centers in Phoenix offer customized programs for patients seeking relief from their long-standing problems. For more information about women’s trauma recovery program at Arizona, call our 24/7 helpline or chat with one of our online representatives.


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