Trauma

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Trauma Affects Victims for Many Years

  • Research indicates that date rape victims are often affected for many years by emotional trauma they experience after the tragic event (e.g., Roth, Wayland, & Woolsey, 1990, who determined that victims of date rape are almost twice as likely as non-victims to satisfy criteria for a psychiatric case).
  • Spitzberg suggests that there is, “strong reason to expect the causal order of sexual violation [i.e., rape and attempted rape by strangers or acquaintances] leading to trauma.”

Psychological and Physical Effects

  • Spitzberg supports this claim by listing many physical, sociobehavioral, psychological, and emotional effects.

In order to illustrate the many ailments experienced by rape victims, Spitzberg provides evidence from longitudinal research studies supporting this causal connection:

These various traumas were viewed as manifestations of a posttraumatic stress disorder related specifically to rape.…Among the somatic physical symptoms studied are physical injury, stomach irritability, genito-urinary disturbance (e.g., vaginal discharge, burning with urination, etc.), sleep disorders, and loss of appetite…. Among the affective emotional symptoms noted are fear and anxiety…depression…phobias (e.g., agora-phobia, fear of being alone, fear of sex, etc.), panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.  Among the psychological symptoms are lower self-esteem, suspicion, distrust, confusion, guilt, desire for revenge, suicide ideation…and generally lowered psychological adjustment.…Among the sociobehavioral symptoms are changing one’s daily routine and movements, changing one’s telephone number and address, suicide attempts, and alcohol and drug abuse….  (1998, pp. 193-194)

 

  • A quick count reveals at least 20 separately identified traumas that appear in Spitzberg’s list–a staggering number by itself.

 

  • Spitzberg doesn't emphasize that it is very likely that a victim of date rape will have more than one of these symptoms.

 

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