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Rape: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly:

Therapy, Cause, and Effect

Rape victims are stereotypically helpless women in their late teens to early 20s, and their attacker is stereotypically a big, scary man that is a complete stranger to the victim. This is hardly the case, men and women of all ages are at risk and the attacker is usually someone the victim is acquainted with. Of all of these victims, 49% will suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)(Fields, 2005).

PTSD, Dissociative Disorder, Depression, and Borderline Personality Disorder are all disorders that rape victims are known for having after their traumatic experience (Palmieri, Fitzgerald, 2005)(Trippany, Helm, Simpson, 2006). Cognitive-behavioral therapies as well as medications for these disorders will be discussed. Causes as well as effects (the bad and the ugly), and the therapies (the good) that entangle a victim of rape or sexual abuse will be thoroughly examined.

The website for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) reported that every two and a half minutes someone is sexually assaulted, one in six women and one in thirty three men. About 44% of these cases, the victims were under the age of 18 while about 80% were under the age of 30. (Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, 1998).

Immediately following the attack, physical problems may come about such as pregnancy (in women) and sexually transmitted diseases. Psychological problems are more than likely going to occur such as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, amnesia, substance abuse, dissociative disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Some women who have been raped also experience a change in sexual behavior and satisfaction (Rynd, 1988), meaning, depending on the person, some victims will have a heightened sex drive while others just seem to shut off sexually.

Depression and posttraumatic stress disorder are the most commonly seen disorders in rape victims. Survivors are three times more likely to suffer from depression and six times more likely to suffer from PTSD (Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, 1998). As retrieved from, 2007, symptoms of depression include: depressed mood and other emotional problems, eating pattern changes, sleep pattern changes, mental changes, social problems, and some physical problems. PTSD symptoms include: nightmares, persistent daily thoughts, persistent memories, flashbacks, emotional problems (emotional numbness, trouble feeling affection, irritability, aggression, etc.), some physical problems, social problems, and sleep problems.

As is well known, many rapes may have been the product of the use of a substance, meaning it was a date rape. According to, 2005, most (more than half) of the victims of sexual assault were on dates at the time of the attack. The attacker may have simply used extreme force, large amounts of alcohol, or any of the "date rape" drugs (sedatives). After being raped, many women turn to substance use as a means of self medication, which, in turn, brings about thoughts of suicide.

New laws coming about in Canada are trying to reduce the numbers of sexual abuse in a date setting. These laws allow patrons of a bar to bring their drinks to the bathroom to completely avoid the possibility of an attacker to slip GHB, Ketamine, or other "date rape" drugs into their drinks (McKinnell, 2006) Strange? Maybe. Effective? definitely.

Psychotherapy and antidepression medications are, by far, the most popular therapies for rape victims. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, however, is becoming more and more popular. When we experience trauma or a very strong emotional experience, your internal processing system can get overwhelmed and material can get "stuck" in state-specific form with all the painful images, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations that were when the trauma occurred. EMDR is meant to effectively treat this pain and dislocation caused by such trauma (Zangwill, 2004).

Many people have come to believe that a person that is raped was "asking for it" or was at fault because of how they were dressed or how they acted. Nobody thinks it could happen to them, but the harsh reality is that it could happen to anyone, by anyone. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, about 2/3 of all rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. That is 73% of all rapes, including 38% friends or acquaintances, 28% intimate situations, and 7% were relatives (Catalano, 2006).

Many of the numbers discussed came from those rapes and sexual assaults that were actually reported. Many people don't report their attack to the police for many reasons. Some people believe their situation wasn't serious enough, while others think of the legal aspect, and don't want to have to testify in a court setting. Many men don't report their attack because they



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