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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder In Rape Victims

It is a fact that enduring rape is a harrowingly traumatic experience which may affect every aspect of an individual’s life. When someone is raped their self-esteem, thought process, social interactions, and their overall worldview is drastically impacted. People respond to rape or sexual assault differently. In the majority of cases, people develop post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. PTSD is encountered in individuals who have undergone a traumatic event which is outside the realm of normal human experience such as rape or sexual assault. PTSD develops in individuals as a reaction to having experienced an incredibly disturbing ordeal.

Rape is defined as an unwanted sexual act that may include oral, vaginal, or anal penetration that is perpetrated against another person. The two main types of rapes are forced rape and drug or alcohol-assisted rape. When sexual penetration is physically forced on an individual or is achieved through threatening harm it is called forced rape. When a rape involves the usage of drugs or alcohol to intoxicate or debilitate a person so that they are unable to defend themselves it’s known as alcohol or drug assisted rape. While the majority of rape cases involve the perpetrator as being male and the victim being female, this traumatic experience can occur with anyone regardless of their gender. There are many misconceptions prevalent about the act of rape which serves to confuse people regarding their rights and the right course of action to take. Some of these misconceptions are:

  • Only adult women are victims of rape
  • Cases of rape are quite rare
  • Rapists are typically strangers
  • Rape victims sustain mild to no physical injuries

All of the aforementioned misconceptions are far from the actual truth. Minors may also be victims of sexual assault and cases of rape or sexual assault grow in frequency every year. Rapists are typically acquaintances or friends and victims of rape often sustain severe physical injuries. It is common knowledge that abuse and trauma may have many faces. When sexual abuse results in trauma it can be devastating to a person. When abuse occurs it can have damaging effects that negatively impact a person’s life in many areas. Some of the signs and symptoms associated with victims of rape that have been traumatized are:

Re-Experiencing The Incident

The victim may often have intrusive thoughts about the incident and may be plagued with nightmares and flashbacks regarding the rape.

Social Withdrawal

Victims of rape can be rendered emotionally numb thereby losing the ability to feel any emotions. This can often lead to an introverted lifestyle where the victim may lose the desire to maintain any relationships or social contact with the outside world.

Avoidance Behavior

Rape victims tend to avoid anything that might remind them of the incident. If they are somehow reminded they feel like they are reliving the traumatic experience.

Heightening Of Reflexes And Paranoia

Victims tend to become hyper-vigilant after an incident of rape. As they did not anticipate the first rape, they fear that they will be attacked again. Such paranoia takes a physiological as well as a psychological toll on the person.

PTSD is commonly associated with veterans of war but it also manifests in people who have lived through a disaster, survived an act of violence or experienced a traumatic event like rape. The effects are potentially so severe that it is virtually impossible for the person to function effectively. If you or someone you know has been accused of rape or sexual abuse it is imperative to contact a qualified and experienced sex crime attorney to figure out your next course of action.


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