Rape Trauma Syndrome

What is Rape Trauma Syndrome?
Rape Trauma Syndrome describes the physical and emotional symptoms following a completed or attempted sexual assault. These symptoms most commonly occur immediately following the trauma and continue for an extended period of time after the trauma. The syndrome is described in three different phases. 
Symptoms of Acute/Crisis Phase:
  • fear - of physical injury, mutilation and death
  • anxiety attacks and crying spells, mood swings and depression
  • difficulty concentrating, making simple decisions, doing normal tasks
  • disturbances in sleeping and eating patterns
  • feeling numb, with little emotion
  • poor recall of the assault or other memories
  • feelings of humiliation, guilt, shame, embarrassment, self-blame, anger, confusion, powerlessness.
  • Crying, shakeing or appearing agitated and restless 
  • Seeming calm, controlled, "spacey," or laughing hysterically, as if an assault had never occurred. 
Symptoms of Outward Adjustment Phase:
  • Denial - attempts to block thoughts of the assault
  • Continued anxiety, helplessness
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Deterioration of normal routine - not wanting to go out or be involved
  • Change in sexual behaviors or attitudes
  • Misdirected or self-directed anger
  • Depression, substance abuse, eating disorders

     

Symptoms of Integration and Resolution:
  • Assault no longer central part of life, but some symptoms of above phases may reappear
  • Implemntation of healthy coping teachniques
  • Involvement with family and friends
  • Return to normal activity

Information adapted from: "Rape Trauma Syndrome." Campus Assault Resources and Education. University of California: Irvine, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. http://www.care.uci.edu/general/Recovery-Rape-Trauma-Syndrome.aspx. 

© 2013 Sexual Assault Recovery Program, A Program of Family Services of Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, Inc.