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Why COVID-19 is Triggering for Survivors

A woman sits and looks out onto an urban landscape

Trauma has a compounding effect — life doesn’t stop while survivors are attempting to heal. In fact, in most cases, new traumas form and occur as survivors put in the work to heal from previous traumas.

It is important to specifically mention the high personal toll stress places on survivors facing financial crisis. Survivors of sexual trauma already face disadvantages even in healthy economic times, let alone during global financial downturns. Research shows that “sexual violence can trigger adverse economic events for survivors, including increased expenses and decreased earnings.” This financial stress makes life harder for survivors across an intersection of various identities.

Survivors with disabilities not only face limited access to care in COVID-19 times due to uncharted disruption in care, but they also experience the added weight of processing ongoing injustices while grappling with disproportionate amounts of sexual trauma. Survivors with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty as those living without disabilities, although they are frequently overlooked in sexual assault assistance and prevention campaigns. As Dr. Erin Pritchard notes, “disabled survivors of sexual assault tend be to given limited attention, as they are often deemed asexual. Now, with COVID-19, they will face even more difficulties [which is why it is so] important that resources for survivors are created with disabled people in mind. Inaccessible shelters for women as well as resources not available in different formats (such as large print) will only mean that disabled survivors of sexual abuse will remain unrecognized and unsupported.”  

Parents who identify as sexual violence survivors face a different but notably hard emotional toll as they navigate the economic strain on their families while managing their own healing journeys. The hypervigilance that parenting requires is already exhausting; the addition of personal traumas can further elevate that exhaustion and be extremely triggering for parents. 

This blog is part of a series on the intersections of economic insecurity and sexual violence in the COVID era. Read the rest of the series here: