FREQUENT REACTIONS TO RAPE
Chapter Two of Information and Guidance for Adult Victims of Rape, Boyles, J., Cole, K., Donadio, B., Hilberman, E., Peace, J., Reice, T. Prepared for Emergency Room Rape Crisis Program, North Carolina Memorial Hospital, 1974.
(Reprinted with permission of the Emergency Room Rape Crisis Program,
North Carolina Memorial Hospital, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.)
Every woman reacts to rape in a different way. In talking with rape victims it has been found that most women would appreciate knowing what kinds of reactions and feelings other women have had to rape, so that they can be better prepared to handle their own feelings.
This note is not an attempt to tell you exactly how you will react to rape. These are just some suggestions for you to think about so that you can recognize that the different feelings you might have are normal, and that you don't have to think about them alone. A counselor from our program can help you find someone with whom you would like to talk.
In a rape the woman has had her safety and her life seriously threatened and disrupted. She has been subjected to a humiliating personal violation as well as to physical danger. She has been the victim of a violent crime, and she has temporarily lost her sense of control over her own fate. Nonetheless, she will somehow face this incident and its effects. This crisis, like any other, can be overcome and the woman can go on to lead a happy and satisfying life. The rape need not haunt her for a lifetime.
The immediate reaction is usually anxiety, disbelief and fear. Every person reacts to stress in a different way. Some women respond with crying, sobbing, shaking, and restlessness, while others