What are the feelings experienced by a victim of sexual violence?

When a person is a victim of violence they may have very different reactions during or after the situation, either regarding emotions, thoughts and/or behaviours – this is called the impact of victimisation.

These reactions are normal considering what has happened and especially if we think that sexual violence against children is something no one expects to have to go through.

They are also temporary reactions - this means that the victim will not feel, think and behave this way forever.

How the victim reacts to the situation depends on many factors, including:

  • The relationship between the victim and the offender: if both are close (e.g. family members, or have a friendship relationship), the negative impact can be greater, because the victim may feel betrayed or disappointed by the behaviour of the offender;

  • The way the offender has behaved: the impact of violence can be more negative if the offender threatens or blackmails the victim not to tell what happened;

  • The existence of physical violence: acts of sexual violence involving physical force (e.g. beating or tying up the victim) can have a more negative impact on the victim;

  • The emotional state and personality of the victim: if the violent situation happens at a time in life when the victim is "down", it can be more difficult to overcome the situation;

  • The existence of people who support the victim: if the people the victim cares about most know what is going on and are around to comfort and support the victim, it will be easier for the victim to deal with the situation and overcome what has happened.


We are not all the same!

It is important to mention that not all victims react in the same way to situations, even if they are apparently similar.

There are people who, after the violent situation, are very affected, while others get over it better - and this is normal.

Do you need help? See here what to do.


Some of the information on this website has been simplified so that it can be understood by everyone. This simplification does not, however, put in question the accuracy and correctness of the contents. The content of this website was created by APAV as part of the CARE plus project, funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The content reflects the point of view of APAV, which cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.