Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

37
Rape: Sexual Disruption
and Recovery

ANN WOLBERT BURGESS

LYNDA LYTLE HOLMSTROM

Rape, long stereotyped as a sexual act, has recently come to be viewed more in terms of its violent aspects. The contemporary understanding of rape takes into consideration physiological functioning; power, anger, and aggression issues; and role socialization. However, rape, by definition, includes some sexual component, as Geis (1977) has noted in cautioning against the adoption of too narrow a focus on the violent nature of the behavior.

The sexual component of rape has received recent attention by researchers in terms of sexual dysfunction of the rapist (Groth and Burgess 1977), victims' subjective sexual response during rape (Holmstrom and Burgess 1978b), husbands' or boyfriends' initial reactions to the rape (Holmstrom and Burgess, in press), and marital adjustment (Miller, Williams, and Berstein, n.d.). Clinical reports of victim counseling, as in the following quote from our sample, also emphasize that, years after the rape, there may still be an association between current situations and the traumatic event:

[Are you able to enjoy sex with anyone now?] It depends how I relate to the man. If I'm in a position to enjoy it—a 50-50 thing—then I'm OK. But if I'm feeling that I'm only doing this for him and not for my own enjoyment, then I feel like the incident again... then sex is bad.

-449-

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