Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview
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The Rape Victim:



The experiences that we call rape range from surprise attacks with threats of death or mutilation to insistence on sexual intercourse in a social encounter where sexual contact is unexpected or not agreed upon. Consent is crucial to the definition of rape. The importance of mutual consent is often overlooked and misinterpreted; many people assume that certain social communications imply willingness for a sexual relationship. Although men, women, and children are raped, the majority of rape victims are women; this paper will focus on understanding rape as a psychological stress for the woman victim.

Burgess and Holmstrom (1974) divided the rape victims they studied into three groups: (1) victims of forcible completed or attempted rape, (2) victims who were "accessories" because of inability to consent, and (3) victims of sexually stressful situations where the encounter went beyond the woman's expectations and ability to exercise control. Despite the different circumstances, the intrapsychic experiences of rape victims in all categories have much in common.

The rape victim usually has had an overwhelmingly frightening experience in which she fears for her life and pays for her freedom in


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Women and Mental Health
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