“Rape is not just physical violence, it is also mental violence and not easily forgotten” 
Information on this page has been adapted from The impact of Sexual Assault on Women by Cameron Boyd (2011) with permission.
By Cameron Boyd
It is important to understand that each person reacts uniquely to sexual violence, and there is no right or wrong way to cope or feel after the experience. Each person is different and there are many factors that can influence feelings and reactions after the event(s). Some of the factors may be:
Many survivors experience these responses after sexual assault or abuse:
These responses and the coping methods to deal with them can change over time. If you are the survivor, remember that it was not your fault, and talking about it will help.
If you are a friend/family member, be supportive and give the person time and space to heal in the way they need to.
It is extremely important to understand that there is no particular pattern of response and some people respond immediately while other have delayed reactions. Some are affected by the assault for a long time whereas others appear to recover rather quickly.
We all respond differently to traumatic events.
“Sense of a foreshortened future was for me the most terrifying symptom of trauma, I was obsessed with the thought that I was going to die ... even though he was gone, my psyche still behaved as if it expected a disaster to happen.” 
A range of short-term and long-term psychological and emotional impacts have been associated with sexual assault.
Immediate and short-term impacts
During the attack itself, it is common to experience reactions such as an intense fear of death and dissociation. These are natural physical responses. Being paralyzed by fear does not mean the victim/survivor wanted the assault to happen. Even if the victim/survivor "decides" that it is safest not to physically resist in the situation, this does not mean she wanted it to happen or gave consent.
“I said no but he didn't care. He was nearly three times my size so when it became clear he was probably going to do what he was going to do, I quit fighting and probably dissociated through the rest of it.” 
Research indicates that fear is a common immediate and short-term psychological impact:
For some women, particularly those from marginalized communities, sexual assault can reaffirm assumptions about themselves as devalued persons ("insidious trauma"), and about the world being unsafe and dangerous.
Research suggests victim/survivors may experience a range of medium to long-term impacts:
“I've done such a good job of blocking it all out. I can't remember very much. I hated all of it.” 
Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The trauma response model and clinical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has helped to acknowledge the significance of the harm caused to people who have been sexually assaulted, and the extent of the violation they have experienced. PTSD is a psychiatric label for a collection of psychological symptoms following a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD can include:
“Though I am ashamed to admit this, yes, suicide did enter my mind on many occasions and thankfully I was blessed in my life by daughters because they were my reason for surviving and pressing on even when I could barely stand my existence. I am still frequented by many of these emotions and am now just beginning, through therapy and strong support system, to work through them.” 
Women who have experienced sexual violence may constitute the single largest group of people affected by PTSD. 
PTSD "stresses the abnormal nature of the stressor that causes the mental health symptoms, not individual pathology." 
In other words, PTSD symptoms are "normal" or typical responses to sexual assault. 
“To this day I will never know whether my back problem was actually caused by the force of the rape or me trying to push him off me. I have permanent damage to my back.” (Unnamed victim/survivor in Easteal, 1994, p. 75.)
“I bled for weeks and future sexual experiences were extremely painful and caused more bleeding.” (Unnamed victim/survivor in Easteal, 1994, p. 99.)
Not all women who are sexually assaulted experience physical injuries or medical problems. However, a range of physical injuries and health consequences can be associated with sexual assault. Injuries can be sustained as a direct result of the assault itself, from later complications, or from its psychological impact.
Physical impacts can include:
Continued Trauma for victims of acquaintance sexual assault
If the perpetrator(s) is known to the victim and is/are someone with whom they socialize, victims of acquaintance sexual assault often have to encounter their assailants after the rape. Fear of such encounters can cause increased distress and humiliation for the victims.
 Anonymous victim, 1994
 Daane, 2005
 ."Rachel", in Easteal & McCormond-Plummer, 2006, p. 140
 "Jill", in Easteal & McCormond-Plummer, 2006, p.26
 Peterson, Olasov & Foa, 1987, cited in Petrak, 2002
 Holmes et al., 1996, and Resnick, Acierno, & Kilpatrick, 1997, both cited in Astbury, 2006
 Crome & McCabe, 1995
 Wasco, 2003
 "Kate", in Easteal & McCormond-Plummer, 2006, p. 3
 Stepakoff, 1998
 Petrak, 2002
 “Summer" in Easteal & McCormond-Plummer, 2006, pp. 143-144
 Calhoun & Resnick, 1993, cited in Astbury, 2006
 Walker, 1991, p. 22, cited in Bennice, Resick, Mechanic, & Astin, 2003
 Valentiner, Foa, Riggs, & Gershuny, 1996