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Consequences Of Rape

Rape victims often suffer from postassault depression, feelings of betrayal and humiliation, problems with trust and intimacy, guilt, anxiety, fears, anger, physical problems, sexual difficulties, and lowered self-esteem in many areas of their lives (Muehlenhard; Goggins; Jones; and Satterfield 1991; Shapiro and Schwarz 1997).

Additionally, rape often results in physical injury to the victim or leads to medical difficulties (RAINN 2001; Tjaden and Thoennes 2000). For example, rape victims can contract sexually transmitted diseases from rapists. Female victims may also become pregnant (Heise et al. 1994).

In the United States, the consequences of rape have been conceptualized as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which focuses on the victim's repeatedly re-experiencing the rape (e.g., in dreams or flashbacks); feeling numb and attempting to avoid stimuli associated with the rape; and experiencing increased physiological arousal (e.g., difficulty sleeping or concentrating, outbursts of anger, or an exaggerated startle response).

In many cultures the stigma associated with rape is extremely damaging to victims. In some Asian cultures, women are driven to suicide or are killed by family members in order to relieve the family of their shame (Heise et al. 1994). Similarly, in Alexandria, Egypt, 47 percent of women murdered were killed by a family member following a rape, and almost 8 percent of all suicides were committed by women following a rape (Heise et al. 1994).

Male and female rape victims experience many of the same consequences (Mezey and King 1989). Although both genders may have difficulty seeking help from crisis intervention services or the police, men may have more because being a rape victim is inconsistent with the male stereotype. Gay and lesbian rape victims may have greater difficulty than heterosexuals obtaining help from social service agencies, which are often not publicized for or geared toward gay and lesbian clients (Waterman, Dawson, and Bologna 1989).

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Social IssuesRape - Incidence And Prevalence, Characteristics Of Rape Victims And Rapists, Causes Of Rape, Consequences Of Rape