What Impact Does Assault Have on Victims, Families & Friends?

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may have been assaulted in the past or has questions around the topic:

What is Assault? Definitions & Meanings
Who Commits Assault & Why?
What counts as Assault?
How to Report Assault (and Who to Report it to)
How is Assault Proven in Court?
Punishment & Sentencing for Assault
How to Heal and Recover from Assault
What Impact Does Assault Have on Victims, Families & Friends?
What Effects Does Assault Have on Wider Society?
How can Assault be Prevented?
Assault Data & Statistics
Assault Helplines, Support & Further Reading

The traumatic experience of being assaulted can leave you feeling confused, but with the right help and support you can slowly move forward with your life.

In this article we discuss the impacts of assault on victims and their family and friends, giving a better understanding of signs and symptoms that they may already be experiencing, helping them with their recovery.

How does experiencing assault affect victims?

Assault can affect victims in different ways as individuals will respond differently to each situation. Some victims may feel anger and resentment towards the person who assaulted them, they may also feel fear when leaving home thinking the same thing may happen again. It is not uncommon for victims to feel helplessness, vulnerable and even shocked, finding it difficult to accept what has happened. For some victims it may take time to recover from the trauma of the incident, whilst others may be affected for life.

What is the short term impact of assault for the victim and their family/friends?

They may feel confused, fear, guilt resentment or misalignment in their self-esteem. Friends and family may feel guilty for not being able to protect or help the victim and suffer from mental issues trying to come to terms with what has happened. There is also a risk that relationships with family members and friends is damaged if the perpetrator was a member of the family or close friend of the family.

For the victims short term physical effects of assault may include minor injuries or serious conditions such as broken bones, bruises, or injuries to organs and other part of the body. The emotional effects may involve confusion, shock, shortness of breath and changes in sleeping and eating patterns. The effects will depend on various factors such as the severity of the assault, each victim will respond differently to what has occurred.

And what are the long term effects?

Some of the long term effects of assault may include the following;

  • Trouble developing relationships with others
  • Misuse of drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart disease
  • Depression anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Mental health issues

Please note this list is not exhaustive and there may be other long term effects, these will of course vary for all individuals.

What is the impact for those who witnessed the assault, intervened or helped the victim?

Witnesses may suffer from long term psychological effects that will have an impact on their future well-being, they may experience anxiety and other mental problems from the trauma. The effects will of course depend on a number of factors, some people may cope well whilst others will be more distressed. However, there are many organisations which provide support for victims and witnesses of crime who are finding it difficult to cope.

We understand how difficult it is to experience abuse, whether it is yourself or someone you know, sometimes trying to find help is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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