Research shows that 33% of women in Australia have been subjected to some form of sexual violence in their life and that such abuse often leads to a myriad of health issues. According to the research paper by Taylor.S.Caroline, Pugh Judith, Coles Jan, and Goodwach Raie it is very important to identify the history of sexual violence in a woman in order to provide her with optimal health care.

The term sexual violence is used to describe all forms of sexual abuse, including rape, attempted rape, childhood sexual assault, sexual assault, both with and without contact.  As per research 29% of women in Australia have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence even before the age of 16 and most incidents are never reported which makes it difficult for health practitioners to diagnose health problems that are resulting from sexual assault. The hesitancy of women to disclose their sexual violence history and the hesitation that is seen in general practitioners to discuss or to ask about this sensitive topic are the main reason why the required care is not given to the victims of sexual violence.

There are many long term health problems that have been reported to be associated with sexual trauma, both physical and psychological. Some of the physical health problems that are reported in such victims are breast pain, vaginal pain, headaches, abdominal pain, musculoskeletal pain and irritable bowel syndrome. Other problems like bladder infection, sexual dysfunction, rectal bleeding, vaginal bleeding or discharge, menorrhagia, pelvic pain and dysuria are also reported in such victims. Sexual trauma can also entice the victims, especially those who are subjected to childhood sexual assault, to adopt smoking, drug use, alcohol use and to have early intercourse and multiple sexual partners. Anxiety, PTSD and depressive symptoms are often found in women who have been subjected to sexual trauma and there is the need to provide the right medical attention to such victims.

There is onus on health practitioners to understand the long term physical and psychological effects of sexual violence and to possess the required intervention skills that will help them to identify women who have been subjected to sexual violence. This will help ensure that the right treatment is given to the victims and to avoid any type of re-traumatisation that might occur inadvertently.

The victim has to be made comfortable to enable them to disclose the horrific incidents that have occurred and it is the responsibility of the health practitioners to create an atmosphere that will make the victim comfortable and feel safe. Once the health practitioner gets the required information from the patient, the appropriate treatment needs to be provided to the victim taking into consideration their history of sexual violence.

If you have been the victim of sexual violence or other serious crime contact Victims of Crime Compensation & Counselling Services  for assistance, advice and support on 1800 000 055 or make an enquiry now at or email:

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