Rape Trauma Syndrome

It is common for survivors to experience a type of Post Traumatic Stress called Rape Trauma Syndrome. Each of these stages are completely normal, even healthy for survivors. All are a part of a survivor adjusting to his or her "new normal."

First Stage: Pre-Assault

  • Not always experienced by every victim.
  • Some may experience a feeling that something is amiss.
  • May feel apprehensive prior to the assault.
  • Often these feelings are ignored.

Second Stage: The Assault

  • Occurs during the assault.
  • Characterized by physical and emotional shock.
  • May experience sense of unreality.
  • May describe the sensation of leaving their body or disassociation.
  • May feel paralysis, wanting to scream but nothing will come out.
  • May be able to clearly remember every little detail of what happened.

Third Stage: The Acute Phase

  • Begins after the assault and may last anywhere from several days to several weeks.
  • Characterized by shock and disbelief.
  • Thoughts may be disorganized.
  • May experience a wide range of physical and emotional reactions.

Fourth Stage: The Recoil Phase

  • Begins several days or weeks after the assault, and lasts for months or years.
  • May never move beyond this phase.
  • Characterized by "wanting to be normal again."
  • Likely to refuse counseling or to talk about the assault.

Final Stage: Resolution and Reorganization

  • Begins when the victim realizes that s/he must face his/her feelings about the assault.
  • Something may trigger the victim to make him/her feel like the assault had just happened.
  • Moves onto a period of crisis.
  • Re-thinks emotions and reactions.
  • Process may take several weeks to a year.
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