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Rape: Its Emotional Consequences

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

It is always disturbing to me that those clients who have suffered the violent crime of rape feel ashamed and guilty. Despite all we know today about psychology, the psychology of rape, i.e.: that it is not a sexual but a violent crime and the fact that women who have suffered this horrible fate were not at fault, so many of them persist, for years afterwards, in feeling guilty and ashamed of themselves. I guess, that is the main point, that rape is a crime that damages the self esteem and dignity of a person at the deepest levels.

The three main issues for those who have suffered this assault are: 1) Shame and guilt, 2) Control and trust and, 3) Post traumatic stress. In terms of psychotherapy for these individuals these three issues also provide three main goals of treatment:

Goals of treatment

1. Understanding and believing that rape is not the fault of the victim and that they did nothing shameful.

Consequently, it is better to not keep the fact of the rape a secret to be hidden from friends and family.

2. Learning to live with a sense of control over life, limb and body and re-learning to trust loved ones.

3. Resolving the symptoms of Post traumatic stress in order that there are no longer symptoms of:

a. Nightmares

b. Startle response

c. Sleeplessness

d. Depression

e. Agitation

f. Irritability with sudden outburst of anger.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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