Sexual assault, specifically rape is the most heinous and most vile act that one human being could commit against another. One might argue that murder would be worse. However, the psychological effects that remains well after the wounds heal, leaves memories that may last a lifetime. According to the Rape, Incest, Abuse National Network (RAINN) 18.8% of African American women will experience an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime compared to 17.6% of all women.
There are numerous effects of rape. One of them is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is severe feelings of anxiety, stress and fear. This experience is common when veterans return from war due to the sights, sounds and over all experience of being in combat. A victim should not have to undergo PTSD symptoms because a rapist decided to exert their power over the victim.
Other effects can appear as if a sexual assault has not taken place. There are some confusing behaviors, like being sexually promiscuous, alcohol and drug abuse after a rape. These behaviors can lead one to ask, “If you were raped, why are you acting like this?” These are some things that the victim may do in an effort to cope with what has happened. Self injury and even suicide may result.
The effects of this horrific crime are magnified when the victim (also referred to as the survivor) comes forward to report the incident and is blamed. Placing the blame on the victim can play out in the following scenarios:
- Why were you dressed like that?
- Why were you in his apartment at 2:00 AM?
- Why were you drinking?
- He is fine and doesn’t have to rape any woman!
Rape is not about sexual gratification. Rapists have access to consensual sex. It is a crime of power. Most of us would be afraid if we saw a stranger in a ski mask. We would guard ourselves from someone like that. However, it is the people you know that puts you at higher risk. Approximately 66% of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim, with 38% of rapists being friends or acquaintances.
When a victim has the courage to come forward and report the sexual assault, rally around that person. It takes courage to report a rape and you may be the only encouragement they receive. Unfortunately 54% of victims do not report this crime to the police. By the time a rapist is reported, it is not their first rape. Reporting the crime could very likely save someone else from being raped.