Sexual violence consequences
Violence has many consequences, primarily on mental and physical health. In addition to the long-lasting and severe psychological consequences, violence significantly impacts the social life of a person who has survived it. It is very difficult to separate the psychological consequences from the consequences manifested in the behavior of people. Therefore, we are outlining below some of the common behavioral changes, which are reactions to a traumatic experience as well as psychological consequences.
It is important to emphasize that there is no right or wrong way to respond to the traumatic experience. Each person responds to traumatic experience in her/his own distinctive way, and regardless of how s/he feels – s/he has a right to that – it is the only right and normal thing to do. All of us are different and have our own ways of coping with the traumatic situation and its consequences.
HEALTH / PHYSICAL CONSEQUENCES:
Gynecological consequences: unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases: syphilis, gonorrhea (clap), hepatitis B / C, HIV disease, chlamydia infection, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, genital HPV infection, genital herpes, other possible effects: urinary tract infections, genital irritation, vaginal bleeding, vaginal injuries (lacerations, contusions, abrasions), incontinence.
Injuries to other parts of the body:
Injuries may range from scratches, contusions, lacerations to life-threatening injuries or injuries that can permanently impair health of a person who has experienced violence.
Classification of the severity of injury according to the forensic qualification.
Legislator distinguishes between bodily injury, serious bodily injury, aggravated bodily injury and serious bodily injury that resulted in death.
Aggravated bodily injury is defined through six characteristics: „life of the injured person is endangered, or an important part of the person’s body or an important organ of the person is permanently weakened to a significant degree or destroyed, or permanent work disability is caused to the injured person, or permanent and severe damage to her/his health or permanent disfigurement or permanent inability to reproduce is caused“ (Article 199, Criminal Code).
Serious bodily injury is defined through a negative definition of aggravated bodily injury. In case of serious bodily injury the threat to life is abstract, but in the particular case there is no real threat to life. If a person suffered from damages to important organs or an important part of the body, then the serious bodily injury is continuous, but not aggravated damage, or serious damage, but then not the permanent damage on the body. A less important organ (kidney, testis, ovary) or less important part of the body (any finger except for the thumb) can be destroyed or permanently and substantially impaired. In case of the serious bodily injury the inability to work is time limited. Health can be weakened as a result of a serious bodily injury permanently, but then not seriously, or it could be seriously weakened, but then not permanently.
Bodily injury is not precisely defined by the legislator. Any bodily injury that does not have the characteristics of an aggravated or serious bodily injury will be considered bodily injury. In case of bodily injury, there is not even an abstract threat to life. There is no damage to important organs or an important part of the body. Less important organ or body part may be impaired permanently, but not to a significant extent, or if to a significant extent, then not permanently. Inability to work is negligible and the impairment of health is temporary. (Dušan Zečević et al: Forensic Medicine and Deontology, Medical Publishing 2004).
Long-term consequences (do not take effect immediately after the violence): chronic pelvic pain, premenstrual syndrome, gastrointestinal disorders, pregnancy complications, migraines and other frequent headaches, back pain, incontinence, disability that prevents one from working.
Pregnancy test, in case of negative findings, emergency contraception (within 72 hours) is recommended.
Prophylactic treatment of sexually transmitted diseases with combined antibiotic therapy, gynecological examination after 2 weeks.
Testing for hepatitis virus B/C. If the result of the test for hepatitis B virus is negative, the person is given vaccination.
Testing for the HIV virus. If the result is negative, the test is repeated 3 months and 6 months after the event.
Pap test after 6 weeks and genotyping of the human papilloma virus (HPV).
If you notice any of the following symptoms: vaginal discharge, pain during urination, pain in the lower abdomen, abnormal vaginal bleeding (spotting) or dyspareunia (painful intercourse), see your doctor.
We are mostly aware of physical injuries, the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, both less dangerous and easily curable ones as well as those which may have long-term implications. However, the psychological consequences are less clear and visible, and can be severe and longer lasting than physical injuries.
Psychological consequences and changes in behavior: tension, restlessness, fatigue, feeling of fear (for oneself, one’s life and the life of one’s loved ones), feeling of shame, feeling of guilt, self-neglect, loss of self-esteem, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disturbances (insomnia, nightmares), eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, malnutrition, dehydration), abuse of alcohol and drugs, problems with concentration, confusion, a sense of distraction, lack of tolerance and patience, suicidal thoughts, sexual problems, post-traumatic stress disorder.
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