The Rape Victim: A Project of the Committee on Women of the American Psychiatric Association ...

By Elaine Hilberman | Go to book overview

APPENDIX IV
A NOTE TO THOSE CLOSEST TO RAPE VICTIMS:
FAMILIES, SPOUSES AND FRIENDS

Chapter Seven 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 (originally published by the D.C. Rape Crisis Center who graciously consented to our adaptation for The North Carolina Memorial Hospital Use).

(Reprinted with permission of the Emergency Room Rape Crisis Program,
North Carolina Memorial Hospital, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
.)

How does rape affect a woman? How does rape affect those closest to a rape victim? How can those closest to a rape victim do "the right thing?" The answer to these questions is that we don't know but we have some ideas which we hope will offer a beginning for giving effective support to victims of rape. For more than anyone else, it is those closest to the victim who influence how she will deal with the attack.

What is rape? Rape is legally defined as forcible vaginal penetration to which a woman does not consent. Most women who have been raped do not react to the sexual aspects of the crime, but instead they react to the terror and fear that is involved. Often an immediate reaction of the woman is "I could have been killed." Many of those around her, particularly men, may find themselves wondering about the sexual aspects of the crime. The more this concern about sex is communicated to the woman, the more likely she is to have difficulties in dealing with her own feelings. Probably the best way to understand her feelings is to try to remember or imagine a situation where you felt powerless and afraid. You may remember feeling very alone, fearful and needing comfort. Perhaps

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