Violence and Public and Personal Health: Sexual Violence, Sexual Assault, and Sex Trafficking

Publication Date


Journal Title

FP Essent


Written permission from the American Academy of Family Physicians is required for reproduction of this material in whole or in part in any form or medium. In the United States, approximately 1 in 5 women will experience a sexual assault in her lifetime. In most reported cases, men are identified as perpetrators regardless of the sex of the individual assaulted. There typically is some form of relationship between the survivor and the perpetrator-whether it be an acquaintance, friend, family member, or authority figure. As such, female patients should be asked routinely about a history of sexual assault, particularly if the patient reports relevant physical symptoms and/or substance abuse. Factors that could lead to children experiencing sexual assault (particularly via domestic minor sex trafficking) include a history of abuse, substance use, mental health issues, family dysfunction, and the involvement of Child Protective Services. Short-term goals of primary care include management of physical injuries and psychological needs, evaluation for pregnancy, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Long-term effects may include sexual dysfunction, mental disorders (eg, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder), and medical symptoms (eg, chronic headache, infections).

Volume Number



28 - 31

Document Type





School of Medicine

Primary Department

Family Medicine




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