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Family Matters No. 76 - June 2007

Caring about sexual assault: The effects of sexual assault on families, and the effects on victim/survivors of family responses to sexual assault

Zoë Morrison

Abstract

Sexual assault effects families and communities, as well as the victim. This article considers the effects on the families of adult sexual assault victims, and how the reactions and responses of family members can help or hinder the victim's recovery. The trauma of sexual assault can have emotional, physical, social, and financial effects on the victim, which can affect those who care for them and lead to secondary traumatisation. Research indicates that trauma impacts differently upon specific family members, such as intimate partners, parents, and children. Negative responses by family members or the community can further traumatise the victim, and affect whether the victim seeks help or discloses the crime. The article concludes by outlining actions and behaviours for family members that can help the victim and themselves in the aftermath.

Sexual assault effects families and communities, as well as the victim. This article considers the effects on the families of adult sexual assault victims, and how the reactions and responses of family members can help or hinder the victim's recovery. The trauma of sexual assault can have emotional, physical, social, and financial effects on the victim, which can affect those who care for them and lead to secondary traumatisation. Research indicates that trauma impacts differently upon specific family members, such as intimate partners, parents, and children. Negative responses by family members or the community can further traumatise the victim, and affect whether the victim seeks help or discloses the crime. The article concludes by outlining actions and behaviours for family members that can help the victim and themselves in the aftermath.

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