The symptoms of Rape Traumatic Syndrome (RTS) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) overlap.
Obviously a person who has been raped will generally experience high levels of distress during the sexual assault and for a very long time after. Some victims are able to cope and recover quickly but others may continue to experience some form of psychological distress (PTSD) for months or years. It has also been found that victims are at high risk for developing substance use disorders, major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and eating disorders.
Everyone is different but generally there are several stages
We do know that some people are unable or unwilling to contact anyone.
Domestic Violence Victims
The majority of people coping with domestic abuse, speaking to somebody about it and finding ways to create a safer life can take a long time. It’s a long process – not a single event. Individuals try different ways of dealing with their problem over a long period of time before finding a way that’s right for them. We are continuing our education of Society to recognise something is just not normal about the behaviour and or appearance of friends and acquaintances or even seeing a distressed person.
Here is the Australian Government's secure website with quick exit. Please inform us if you are aware of similar websites in other countriesAUSTRALIAN WEBSITE TO ASSIST VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE
This is where the victim is most vulnerable.Jane’s research team says “If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you may be both physically and emotionally affected. Only you can decide what you feel up to doing in the following hours, days or weeks.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, the first thing you need to do is go somewhere you feel safe, such as the home of a close friend or family member.
If you are injured or even if you are not injured you must obtain medical help from a doctor who will check you for damage and take tests for possible disease and possible pregnancy. Doctors will keep your privacy. If you feel you're able to, you should consider telling someone you trust what has happened. You shouldn't feel ashamed. It is not your fault!
Advice to anyone contacted by a victim
Note: Not all victims show their emotions outwardly. There is no typical response or outward signs but it is quite normal to show any of the following
- No visible emotions, acting like it was nothing. No problem, I'm OK with a tendency to minimize the event
- Agitation or hysterical and anxiety attacks, crying uncontrollably, trembling, acute sensitivity to the reaction of other people.
- Disorientation, unable to remember what happened, difficulty in making decisions, or doing everyday tasks, Inability to sleep
- Increased consumption of alcohol and considering self-harm
As a victim moves out of the acute stage there is a tendency to do things that might not be beneficial but perceived by them to be the way to cope
- Pretending everything is fine
- Keeps talking about the Rape and enjoy the repeated sympathy from listeners
- Refuses to discuss the rape)
- Research and detailed analysis or explanation of what happened for constant reassurance of it not being their fault
- Change their appearance or move to another house of city.
- Stop socializing or going to meeting or attending organisations which they previously enjoyed.
Despite the attempt at coping most victims managing on their own without support from experience people suffer from poor health in general and despite an outward expression of being fine they are not the same as before. They have changed in many ways and do not notice the changes themselves. They may still be suffering from PTSD
Rape survivors develop fears and phobias specific to the circumstances of the rape, for example:
- They might be more vigilant
- easily frightened
- suffer from changes in mood from happy to sad
- A fear of being in crowds.
- Become angry without real reason
- Become depressed
- A fear of being left alone anywhere.
- A fear of men or women or strangers.
- A fear of going out at all,
- A fear of being touched,
- Specific fears related to certain characteristics of the assailant, e.g. hair styles, the smell of alcohol or cigarettes or bad breath, type of clothing or car.
Problems facing victims with PTSD
Whilst the reactions of victims are real Jane’s Team is concerned about the way in which these are understood by society and by professionals attending victims.. For example if victims exhibit pathological symptoms and struggle through the pain and trauma of a sexual assault these are seen to be a symptoms of a disorder caused by the actions of the rapist.
Actually the rape trauma is only one of many problems facing victims because there are many more people that need to take responsibility for adding to a victims distress. For example the insensitive treatment of the police, examining physicians, the judicial system and in many cases family reactions and the general attitude towards rape (rape mythology)WHAT IS PTSD AND CAN IT BE CURED? WHY WE NEVER FORGET BAD THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO US?
There is much work to be done to help the past and educate the future