Rape Trauma Syndrome

17 Sep

Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a form of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that often affects rape survivors. Not all survivors experience RTS as different women respond to trauma in different ways. Some women will experience many severe RTS symptoms; others may have a a few or none at all. All rape survivors need to be believed, taken seriously and supported, regardless of whether they experience RTS or not.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding rape and the effects. RTS does not make your crazy. The symptoms can be very powerful and distressing. If you are a survivor you may fear that you are going mad. If you are supporting a friend or family ember who has ben raped, you may find the survivors behaviour puzzling or upsetting. However, the fact is that the symptoms of RTS are a normal reaction to a traumatic experience and they will fade over time if treated with care and support.

What influences how you react to rape?

A survivors response to rape including whether and how long she experiences RTS depends on many factors, including:

Whether she knew or trusted the rapist.
Whether her friends and family are supportive and patient or blaming and unhelpful.
How the police and justice system treat her.
Her age and previous life experiences
Her cultural and religious backgrounds

Is it possible to forget about a rape?

Many rape survivors may lose or suppress their memory of part or all of the rape. Some women find that they can remember before and after, but not the rape itself. The memories will resurface later and the survivor will need to face them.
If the rape survivor is very young, she may not consciously recognise that she has been raped until a month or even years later. This usually occurs when another event such as a sexual relationship or another trauma, triggers the memories.
Once the memory resurfaced, a survivor can never forget the rape but will need to learn how to live with it. Recovery from rape takes time. The survivor must allow herself to remember the ordeal and make efforts to work though the experience.

Physical symptoms of RTS.

SHOCK: Usually. More immediate response; may include numbness, chills, confusion, trembling, nauseated sometimes vomiting.
SLEEPING DISORDERS
EATING PROBLEMS
NO ENERGY OR TOO MUCH ENERGY
PHYSICAL ILLNESS: The stress may weaken the immune system and make her more vulnerable to other illnesses. If the rapist did to use a condom, the survivor has a strong possibility of of catching any illness and std’s from him.
PAIN IN THE BODY: This may be as a result of the injuries caused by the rapist or simply a physical reaction to her emotional pain.
CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEMS: These include heart palpitations, breathlessness, tightens or pain in the chest and high bled pressure.
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS: These include loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, dryness in the mouth
EXAGGERATED STARTLED RESPONSE: A sudden reaction to noise or movement.

Cognitive symptoms of RTS.

FEELINGS OR FLASHBACKS: Re-living the trauma of the rape in your head.
THINKING ABOUT THE RAPE ALL THE TIME.
MEMORY LOSS
POOR CONCENTRATION
INCREASED ALERTNESS
SPEECH PROBLEMS, SUCH AS STUTTERING OR STAMMERING
SELF BLAME
FEAR OF BEING ALONE
RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
DRASTIC LIFESTYLE CHANGES

Emotional symptoms of RTS:

DENIAL
NUMBNESS
GUILT
FEELING DIRTY
ANGER OR REVENGE
FEAR
NERVOUSNESS OR WORRYING
BEING EASILY UPSET
GRIEF AND LOSS
LOSS OF SELF ESTEEM
DEPRESSION
SUICIDAL FEELINGS

Does It change over time?

Yes, it the initial period after the survivor has acknowledged what has happened to her. This is the period of extreme shock and anxiety. This phase can last from a few days to even years, depending the severity of the rape and what treatment and support she might receive.

For more information please contact http://www.powa.co.za

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