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Rape Rape Trauma Syndrome

Dictionaries most commonly define rape as a sexual act committed by force especially on a woman. (The American Heritage College Dictionary. 1997 pg. 740) Until a few years ago it was limited to penial penetration of the vagina.Penal Code 261 defines rape as “an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person not the spouse of the perpetrator without the lawful consent.”(Roberson, 1998, p. 188)Penal Code 263 goes on to say that “the fundamental wrong at which the law of rape is aimed is . . . the violation of a woman’s will and sexuality.”(Roberson, 1998, p. 190) All other sexual assaults are classified under varied names, yet the aftermath is usually the same.
Rape is one of the cruelest forms of criminal violence.The victim suffers a profound injury.Rendered powerless by physical force, threats, or fear, after which being forced to submit to sexual acts, including vaginal penetration, oral copulation, sodomy, and penetration opening with a foreign object, the victim is left virtually alone.Rape is an intrusion into the most private and intimate parts of the body, as well as an assault on the core of the self.Despite whether the victim suffers any physical trauma, the psychological impact of a sexual assault is severe.Moreover, the painful, post-trauma symptoms that result from rape are long-lasting.Even those victims who appear to have recovered months or years later often find that an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and vulnerability remains close to the surface and can easily, and unexpectedly, be reexperienced.A critical factor in the long-term impact of rape is that the assault radically changes the victim’s view of the world.Basic beliefs about the environment, other people, and the self are shattered.These are devastating losses.Thus, many survivors report that the rapist irrevocably alters their lives. The rapist takes away something that the victims can never wholly regain.

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