Effects of Rape:

Emotional

These are some of the feelings you may experience:

SHOCK

  • Disbelief at what has happened
  • Numbness, the event may seem unreal, like a dream
  • Shaking, crying, laughing
  • Slow comprehension of what has happened
  • May occur immediately, or sometime later

FEARS

  • Of a recurrence of the event
  • Of damage to oneself, or of death
  • Awareness of personal vulnerability
  • Panicky, irrational feelings
  • Other, apparently unrelated, fears
  • That others will blame or reject you, or may not believe you

ANGER

  • At the rapist
  • Perhaps at yourself or others for “allowing it to happen”
  • At your feelings of powerlessness
  • At the unfairness and senselessness of it all; generalised anger and hostility may be directed towards all men

SHAME 

  • Feeling that there is something basically wrong with you, that you somehow deserved what happened
  • For not having reacted as you would have wished

HELPLESSNESS

  • Feelings of powerlessness and being out of control of your life
  • Inability to make any decisions

GUILT

  • Feeling responsible, a long list of “if only”

SADNESS

  • For the loss of the belief that the world is safe and predictable
  • About human destruction and loss of every kind
  • For loss of the life you had before the rape changed everything

Behavioural

These are some of the common effects on behaviour that can be expressed in many ways and in various combinations:

TENSION

  • More easily startled, general agitation (physical and/or mental)

SLEEP DISTURBANCES

  • Inability to sleep, thoughts that prevent sleep, replaying the event
  • Wanting to sleep all the time
  • Dreams/nightmares of the rape, or other vivid and frightening events

FEARFULNESS

  • Of the place, reminders of the incident
  • Of men, or even people generally
  • Of going out of your own home
  • Of being alone

INTRUSIVE MEMORIES AND FEELINGS

  • Flashbacks which interfere with concentration and daily life
  • Attempts to shut them out which leads to deadening of feelings and thoughts

IRRITABILITY

  • Frequent mood swings

DEPRESSION

  • Loss of interest in life, a sense of meaninglessness
  • Lethargy

SOCIAL WITHDRAWAL

  • Wanting to be alone
  • A reluctance to talk or associate with anyone

PHYSICAL SENSATIONS

  • Tiredness, palpitations, tremors, breathing difficulties, headaches, tense muscles, aches and pains, loss of appetite or over-eating, loss of sexual interest, nausea, diarrhoea or constipation, and many other symptoms

These reactions are common. Acknowledging and expressing them allows nature to begin the healing process. If you allow this to happen they will usually last only for a short period of time, and gradually diminish in intensity and frequency. If you have any similar situations in your past which were not resolved, the rape may trigger memories of these and the feelings may be compounded.

Delayed Effects: Any of these effects may occur after months or even years of satisfactory emotional adjustment. These physical and emotional symptoms are normal. They develop in people facing stress, threat or loss, and are responses which help the person adapt. They may be, however, unpleasant or distressing to those affected and those close to them.