Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LMHC, CRC, NCC November 20, 2008

 Rape is a pervasive medical, legal, psychological,

and social problem  Affects people of all races, genders and SES  Survivors must make difficult decision in the midst of crisis  PTSD is common in rape survivors  Support from individuals, families, and communities is essential

 Is labeling an experience as rape necessary for

recovery?  Those who label their experience have greater incidence of PTSD symptoms/ long-term decreased physical and psychological well-being  Those who do not may experience less severe emotional reactions  Some argue, could be necessary for a survivor to fully “integrate” their experience

 Relationship between victim and perpetrator is

key  Intimate partner rape is less likely to be reported than acquaintance or stranger rape  Belief in a “blitz” rape script  Amount of force/injury suffered in assault  Peer influence/ Acceptance of aggressiveness in sexual encounters  History of sexual victimization

 Non-genital injuries
 characterized intimate partner assaults

in acquaintance or stranger rape (Logan, et al, 2007)  Substance use most common in acquaintance rape

 are more severe in intimate partner rape than

 Typical psychological characteristics:  Poor intimacy skills  Low self esteem  Loneliness  Inability to cope/cope with sex  Lack of empathy  Cognitive distortions  Cognitive Distortions  Sexual offenders more likely to misinterpret social cues and perceive things in ways that justify their offenses.  Reasons for offending  Rapists  Anger, retribution  Child molesters  Sexual gratification, intimacy  Lower Self esteem than rapists

 Expressed  Controlled  Shocked

Outward Adjustment
 Minimization/Suppression  Dramatization/Life Domination  Explanation/Analysis  Escape


 Rape survivors must contend with reactions of family,

friends, and society when they reveal their experience  Fear being blamed, shamed, or ostracized  Marital rape is perceived differently from other kinds of rape (Munge et al)
 “Less serious” in general  Responsibility is assumed using length of marriage and fidelity

of the wife  Shorter marriage = less traumatic  Wife who commits adultery is more “responsible” for being raped than a wife who is faithful to her husband

 Rape tactics common in 55-74% of college aged

men  Sexually aggressive men consume more alcohol than non-aggressive men  Sexual violence correlated with rigid gender roles and stereotypes, psychopathology, and sensation seeking behaviors, past history of sexual violence, and hyper-masculine attitudes

 Women are more likely to disclose first to informal

supports (friends, family) than formal supports (police, medical professionals)  Positive reactions of support persons (empathy, belief, understanding, offers of physical and emotional support) promote healing and resiliency in survivors  Negative reactions (blame, anger, indifference) increase psychological trauma, likelihood of PTSD may revictimize the survivor  Acute Stress Disorder is more likely to advance to full PTSD

 Extremely common reaction to sexual assault  Symptoms:  Hypervigilance, anxiety, depression, panic  Sleep difficulty, flashbacks  Difficulty with personal and intimate

relationships, sexual dysfunction  Assault severity, offender violence, severity of sexual acts, and physical injury, self-blame, multiple victimizations, and avoidance coping are highly correlated with PTSD  As assault severity increases, survivors may be less likely to blame themselves and more likely to label it as rape

 Natural coping mechanism that occurs

immediately following rape

 Denial, suppression- avoid stressful thoughts  Person feels overwhelmed, lacks sufficient resources to

deal with trauma  May be healthy way of dealing with acute trauma; but can be maladaptive in the long-term  Approach coping more healthy for long-term processing of trauma: therapeutic interventions, talking about experience, accepting lack of control in situation

 Rape alters a person’s view of the world and their

personal schemas  Assimilation: integrate rape as something that “just happened”; does not appear to alter behavior of survivor  Accommodation: Change schemas and world views to include experience of rape; but do not let it “take over” their lives  Over-accommodation: World/people are now “all bad,” threat, evil is everywhere. Survivor can no longer trust anyone  Common in acute phases, but maladaptive in long-term

 Social support  Availability of emotional and physical resources  Positive reactions of formal support systems

 Denial of the problem of rape  Racism, sexism, societal attitudes  Lack of funding, poor salaries for workers  High turnover, burnout  Professionalism/Standardization  Anti-feminist attitudes  Lack of availability/accessibility of resources and


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