Rape Trauma Syndrome

The physical and emotional aftereffects of rape. The term rape refers to forcible sexual intercourse with an unwilling partner. Rape involves varying degrees of physical and psychological trauma. In most cases the rapist is a man and the victim is a woman.

FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Immediately following rape:

  • Physical injuries such as cuts, bruises or other injuries, including vaginal and rectal tears.
  • Fear, anger, crying, or unusual behavior such as laughter.
  • No outward emotional signs (sometimes).

Aftereffects (may be weeks to months):

  • Feelings of self-blame and guilt.
  • Depression and withdrawal, even from family and friends.

Mood swings; feelings of grief, shame, revenge.

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fear of intercourse, fear of men.
  • Nightmares, sleep disorders.
  • Fear of being alone.
  • Anxiety.

Rape is extremely traumatizing. All rape victims will suffer physical and psychological aftereffects.

RISK INCREASES WITH

Any victim of rape or attempted rape.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

  • There is no prevention for rape crisis syndrome.
  • The scope of rape prevention is complex and involves individuals, society and government.

EXPECTED OUTCOME

  • It takes most rape victims a long time to feel like they are back in a normal existence, some never do, and some say that they are a completely changed person.
  • Length of recovery time may vary depending on the individual and previous life experiences.

Recovery involves 3 stages:

  • Acute (dealing with the immediate physical and emotional effects).
  • Outward adjustment stage (may seem to be doing well, but may suppress feelings; sort or a limbo period).
  • Integration stage (facing the problem; resolution of the rape experience takes place).

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

  • Sexually transmitted disease.
  • Emotional trauma that may last years.
  • Significant pelvic injury.
  • Pregnancy (rare).

MANAGEMENT
GENERAL MEASURES

Immediate care:

  • Emergency medical assessment and care will be provided for your physical injuries.
  • A general physical examination and pelvic examination will be conducted according to specific medical guidelines. A report is normally made to local law enforcement personnel.
  • Ask for assistance from a Rape Crisis Center (or similar agency). These organization can provide immediate support and help you thorough the urgent medical, emotional, and legal necessities.
  • Medical personnel will discuss with you the risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and other infections; what preventive measures are available; and what follow-up tests may be required. There may be need for consideration of immediate hormonal contraception(morning-after pill) if risk of pregnancy exists.

Aftereffects care:

  • Arrange for counseling or psychological help. This is important for your emotional recovery. Don’t just try to put the matter out of your mind and don’t try to “go it alone”. Suppressing your feelings can increase distress.
  • Keeping a journal or diary about your feelings, thoughts and reactions may be helpful. Talk over your feelings with trusted friends and family.
  • Prepare yourself as much as possible for legal proceedings that force you to relieve the trauma, and may cause additional emotional upsets.

ACTIVITY

Resume your normal life as quickly as possible. Regaining control of your life is a major step of healing and recovery.