The Health Consequences of Sexual Violence


Dr. Christine Blasey Ford recently testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and shared her traumatic experience of sexual assault. In her testimony, Dr. Ford explained how the sexual trauma contributed to lifelong anxiety, phobia, and PTSD-like symptoms. A study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh on women aged 40 to 60 years old has found a link between sexual violence and lifelong health repercussions. Besides lasting psychological issues, researchers found a connection between the trauma and physical issues, such as higher blood pressure, poor sleep, and greater risk of heart disease and stroke. As the women involved in the study were older and experienced the traumatic events earlier in their lives, the findings suggest that these health consequences last for decades. Sexual trauma can shape a person’s wellbeing for the rest of their lives.

For Further Reading

The study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh was initially aimed at studying the impact of hormonal changes in menopause on women’s heart health. After researchers noticed there was a high number of participants who reported having experienced some form of sexual violence, they found a link between traumatic experiences and health risks. You can read the complete study here.

Discussion Question

Do you think enough research has been and is being done surrounding the lifelong health consequences of sexual violence?

Action Item

There are many ways you can show your support for survivors of sexual violence. You can get involved with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) here, and read about small ways you can support survivors here.  


Read more on The Huffington Post | Image: Tom Williams via Getty Images