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this article is one of the best summaries for symptoms of assault victims that I've ever read.Coping and Reactions Rape Trauma Syndrome
by Ann Wolbert Burgess and Lynda Lytle Holmstrom
Victims suffer a significant degree of physical and emotional trauma during the rape, immediately following the rape, and over a considerable time period after the rape. Victims consistently describe certain symptoms.
We define the cluster of symptoms that are documented here as the rape trauma syndrome. This syndrome has two stages: the immediate or acute phase, in which the victim's lifestyle is completely disrupted by the rape crisis, and the long-term process, in which the victim must reorganize this disrupted lifestyle. The syndrome includes physical, emotional, and behavioral stress reactions which result from the person being faced with a life-threatening event.
The acute phase:
• Immediate Impact Reaction A prevailing myth about rape victims is that they are hysterical and tearful following a rape. We did not find this to be necessarily true. On the contrary, victims described and indicated to us an extremely wide range of emotions in the immediate hours following the rape.
The physical and emotional impact of the incident can be so intense that the victim feels shock and disbelief. Two main styles of emotion were shown by the victims within the first few hours after the rape: expressed and controlled.
In the expressed style. the victim demonstrated such feelings as anger, fear and anxiety
. They were restless during the interview, becoming tense when certain questions were asked, crying or sobbing when describing specific acts of the assailant, smiling in an anxious manner when certain issues were stated. In the controlled style, the feelings of the victim were masked or hidden
, and a calm, composed or subdued affect could be noted.
• Physical Reaction
• Rape is forced sexual violence. Therefore, it is not surprising that victims describe a wide gamut of physical reactions. Many described a general feeling of soreness all over their bodies. Others specified the body area that had been the focus of the assailant's force, such as throat, chest, arms or legs. o Sleep Pattern Disturbances In the acute phase, victims have considerable difficulty with disorganized sleep patterns, complaining that they cannot fall asleep, or if they do, they wake up during the night and cannot return to sleep. Those who have been attacked while sleeping in their own beds may awake each night at that time again. It is not uncommon for victims to scream out in their sleep.
o Eating Pattern Disturbances A marked decrease in appetite following the rape is generally noticed by victims. They may complain of stomach pains or describe loss of appetite or the food not tasting right. Frequently victims feel nauseated just thinking of the assault. It is important to determine whether these symptoms are related to the emotional reaction to the rape or are a reaction to an antipregnancy medication.
Rape trauma syndrome is the acute or immediate phase of disorganization and the longterm process of reorganization that occurs as a result of attempted or actual rape. The acute phase includes: (1) the immediate impact reaction (either expressed or controlled); (2) physical reactions; (3) emotional reactions to a life-threatening situation. The long-term process includes: (1) changes in lifestyle; (2) dreams and nightmares; and (3) phobic reactions. There are two variations to the rape trauma syndrome. In the compounded reaction to rape, the victim experiences not only these symptoms, but also a reactivation of symptoms of a previously existing condition. In the silent reaction various symptoms occur but without the victim ever mentioning that a rape has occurred. Crisis counseling is effective with victims developing typical rape trauma syndrome. Additional professional help may be needed for victims with compounded reactions. Counselors should be alert to certain clues that indicate the possibilities of rape even when the person never mentions such an attack.
Edited by pixie, 30 December 2004 - 03:05 PM.