Humans respond differently to experiences and situations. Therefore, it would be an error to assume that rape would affect every victim in the same way and also we can never expect victims to recover at the same rate what to even recover at all. Even the sun can not shed enough light on the effect of rape on victims.
However, from some studies research and one-on-one conversations with rape victims we have gathered that there are some common responses to sexual assault and rape. It is also known now that the effects of rape can take many years to show up and can even last a lifetime on the victims. These are a few of the common effects of rape on victims.
1. Physical effect
The physical effect of rape on victims might show up instantly or much later in future. Tangible results show up immediately if the rapist made use of physical violence in the process of the assault, leaving scars and Marks on the victim. And in cases such as this, the victim usually requires urgent medical attention.
Something else worth putting into consideration is physical effects that might arise later in future. Such results include sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. Thus, it is adviced that victims of sexual assaults hurriedly get tested for STI’s and other possible risks of medical challenges that might show up in future.
If a rape victim for any reason decides not to report the case to the police (always make a report immediately you can), or is too shy to go to the hospital closet to them to get tested for fear of being stigmatised or judged, such a person should make sure to visit the nearest GUM (Genito-urinary medicine clinic) where they can be adequately checked for infections and also advised on the right steps to take.
2. Emotional numbness and dissociation
For a lot of victims, the initial response to rape is displayed disbelief, shock and emotional numbness. Whereas for some others, they find it easy just to shut the rest of the world out and try to process what happened to them in the quietness of their privacy.
And then we have some victims who are rather calm and composed after such a terrible occurrence. Such behaviour becomes shocking and sometimes scary to loved ones, well-wisher and even professionals around this kind of individuals as it is usually expected that a victim of such an assault would be disoriented and visibly broken emotionally.
It is important to note that dissociation is a ubiquitous defence mechanism and should not come as a surprise to people around rape survivors as this reaction is normal. Within the next couple of days or maybe a few weeks after the occurrence, the victim may likely begin to display some other responses like fear, anger, and anxiety.
Rape victims become afraid after the experiences for reasons too numerous to mention. Some of them might be too scared to report to the police for fear of what their reaction might be depending on how the society responds to such cases.
Some others might be too scared to tell their family or friends because they are unsure if they will be judged or if these relatives of theirs will become upset with them. Some other sexual assault victims might be afraid especially if threats were issued during the cause of the assault. And in cases where an offender is a familiar person who knows a lot about the victim, fear of a repeat might arise.
Victims may get worried about getting intimate with people they are in a relationship with or relationships they might get into in future. They might also worry about the possibility of getting sexually transmitted infections or even getting pregnant.
Some survivors might even get concerned about what their lives would become when people around them discover that they were victims of rape. The reasons for worry are limitless, but these fears are very reasonable and expected. If you have such a person around you, it is OK to allow them cry and talk about it as letting out emotions in this manner has proved to help them feel better. Love and support are all you can offer them.
4. Shame and Embarrassment
A lot of sexual abuse survivors are usually ashamed and embarrassed whenever they think about what has happened to them so much so that a lot of them avoid talking about it. Even for some adults talking about sexual activities is something they find uncomfortable because they feel shy to chat about it let alone discussing such a tragic experience. In cases such as this, survivors are advised to talk to someone on any of the telephone helplines as the person will go at your pace and anonymity is guaranteed.
It is normal to feel guilty after a rape incident because somewhere deep down you have the feeling that you might have been able to prevent it if you had tried harder.
If the attacker is someone that you’re familiar with, you may feel that you had given him or her the impression that you were interested in having sex with them because of how you were dressed, or much you drank or engaged them in a friendly conversation.
One thing every person should have at the back of their mind is that it is never your fault that you were raped. Whoever the offender is, he or she has control over there behaviour and actions, so they are guilty. Also, regardless of the relationship between you and the offender you have the right to say no to sex.
6. Practical Factors
Getting raped can disrupt your normal life in many ways. You might want to make significant life changes to prevent such thing from reoccurring. Your work routine might be disturbed and every other thing you do on a normal basis might not fall in place.
What should matter at that point of your life is recovering and feeling safe. If moving to a new environment will help you feel better, then by all means, do so. Getting a pet as also proved to help in situations like this because pet animals like cats and dogs are good for emotional support.
Depression is expected as you begin to come to terms with what happened. It is a normal response to many emotionally disturbing occurrences. You might cry often, think a lot and become sleep deprived.
Getting raped can sow a seed of hatred in the heart of the victim for the offender, or even the entire gender of the offender. It is not rear to see cases of females who stay away from men because of sexual assault experiences they had.
9. Repeated dreams and nightmares
You may begin to experience recurrent nightmares and dreams about the incident. This is a very normal effect because as you try to come to terms with the experience your brain tries to process and understand what had happened so it can begin a recovery process.