Many people who experience traumatic events or abuse develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD for short. This is a condition characterized by a wide variety of symptoms that can easily interfere with daily life. One of the most common causes of PTSD is sexual assault, regardless of the age of the victim. Children who suffer sexual abuse are likely to develop PTSD as well as other psychological issues, and adults who experience sexual assault or rape may develop PTSD symptoms as well.
One of the most important things to remember about PTSD is that everyone responds differently to trauma and stress. Two people who experience the same traumatic event at the same time may have very different interpretations of the event and experience very different symptoms. PTSD can interfere with daily life occasionally for some people, resulting in sudden flare-ups of symptoms, whereas others may experience symptoms consistently regardless of their environment.
What are the Primary Symptoms of PTSD?
Everyone’s PTSD symptoms vary from person to person. Some peoples’ symptoms change over time. For example, a person with PTSD may experience vivid flashbacks for the first few years after a traumatic event until they eventually subside, but then the person starts having trouble sleeping or experiences nightmares. No one-size-fits-all treatment for PTSD exists. Possible symptoms can include:
- Mood swings and personality changes
- Heightened aggression
- “Fight or flight” responses to certain stimuli
- Trouble sleeping, insomnia, or nightmares
- Vivid, unwanted recollections of the traumatic event
- Depression and lethargy
- Avoiding social situations and alienating people in a support system
- Involuntary and unpredictable responses to “triggers” or things or people who remind a victim of a traumatic event
An individual who experiences these symptoms requires personalized treatment. Many people who experience PTSD will self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs to dull their symptoms, and this co-occurring disorder can lead to addiction and serious medical issues later in life.
What is the Recovery Process for PTSD?
Treatment varies from case to case, but most people who struggle with PTSD benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling. Some people may require medications to manage some of the symptoms of PTSD, but it is vital to approach prescription medications for psychological issues with caution. For example, benzodiazepine medications are great for fighting the symptoms of anxiety over a short time but are not appropriate for long-term use. These medications can be habit-forming and cause additional complications or a reemergence of symptoms upon cessation of the drugs.
Legal Recovery From PTSD
If one party injured another through negligence or an intentional harmful act like sexual abuse, the offender is responsible for the resulting damages. This includes the cost of PTSD treatment later in life. A person who suffers from PTSD can include his or her psychological trauma and emotional distress as damages in a civil suit against the offender. A person who commits sexual abuse will hopefully face criminal prosecution from the state, and he or she will also face liability for civil damages from his or her victim.
PTSD almost always requires long-term treatment. A person who develops PTSD from a sexual assault or rape would be able to claim compensation for future medical expenses from the offender. California recently changed the state’s statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims. Previously, a victim had eight years after turning 18 to take legal action for sexual abuse suffered as a child. Now, a plaintiff may file sexual abuse charges whenever he or she “discovers” the harm from the abuse.
Many people who experience sexual abuse, especially children, suppress the memories of these traumatic encounters and may not display any outward symptoms for a long time. Years later, repressed memories reemerge, and the victim starts to remember the trauma from his or her past. In this situation, the individual would likely be able to pursue a sexual abuse claim against the person who committed the abuse.
If you or a loved one suffered post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD from sexual assault, abuse or molestation, you can get help! Contact our experienced team about your case today! (800) 925-0723