Posted on April 3, 2019

Know the Warning Signs 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to TAASA (Texas Association Against Sexual Assault), Sexual Assault is best understood as a broader continuum of unwanted non-mutual sexual actions that range from subtle to extremely violent. It can include but is not limited to rape, sexual threats, intimidation, incest, sexual assault by intimate partners, child sexual abuse, human sexual trafficking, sexual harassment, street harassment, and other forms of unwelcomed, coerced or non-consensual activity.  

Sexual Assault can happen to anyone. As advocates, it is our duty to know the warning signs of those who may be survivors of Sexual Assault, and how to best assist them in their healing. 

With any rape, sexual assault, or domestic abuse case, as a friend or ally, always believe the victim. Believe the warning signs that there is trauma and feel encouraged to reach out to our Crisis Line at any time, day or night. 800-572-4031 or 940-387-7273 

Warning Signs for Adults: 

  • Depression 
  • Self-harm 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Anxiety 
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections 
  • Avoidance of people or places  
  • Failing grades/lack of work productivity 
  • Increase in drug/alcohol intake 

Warning Signs for Teens: 

  • Unusual weight gain or loss 
  • Unhealthy eating patterns (loss of appetite or excessive eating) 
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections 
  • Depression 
  • Expressing thoughts of suicide 
  • Anxiety / Worry 
  • Failing grades 

Warning Signs for Children: 

  • Exposing oneself  
  • Sharing obscene images 
  • Trauma to genitals or unexplained bleeding 
  • Sexual behavior inappropriate for a child that age 
  • Bed Wetting 
  • Not wanting to be left alone with certain people 
  • Avoids removing clothing or taking baths 
  • Excessive talk or knowledge about sexual acts 
  • Resuming behaviors that they had already outgrown 

If you ever notice any of these warning signs in a friend or loved one, let them know you are there for them, believe them when they choose to tell you their story, have open communication, and let them know that they can reach out to our Crisis Line 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 800-572-4031 or 940-387-7273.  

Eight out of ten victims of sexual assault know their perpetrator, which means that there could be dynamics involved that you are not aware of. If the sexual assault was recent, you can always encourage the survivor to call 911, but it is important to understand that it is their choice whether to report their assault or not. Remember that your role as their support system is to believe them and help them access resources, but it is not to take control of the situation or tell them what to do.  

You can learn more about the warning signs and what sexual assault is by visiting both the TAASA and Rainn websites linked below.  

TAASA

RAINN

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