The Domestic Assault of Women: Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives

By Donald G. Dutton | Go to book overview

6
Effects on the Victim

Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside of you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.

- George Orwell, 1984

Over the last decade a considerable literature has developed on the psychological effects of victimhood, describing reactions to being a victim of rape (Schram 1978; Burgess 1983; Meyer & Taylor 1986), hostage-takings (Strentz 1977; Flynn 1986; Terr 1991), assault (Sales, Baum, & Shore 1984; Ochberg 1988; Herman 1992), sexual assault (Scheppele & Bart 1983), incest (Silver, Boon, & Stones 1983; Eth & Pynoos 1985), and technological disaster (Baum, Fleming, & Singer 1983). Out of this victimization literature researchers have developed some understanding of the cognitive means victims use to regain feelings of self-control (Janoff-Bulman & Lang-Gunn 1985; Wortman 1976) and the models that attempt to account for successful victim recovery (Sales, Baum, & Shore 1984). In this section, we will examine this general literature on victim reactions with a view to how it might apply to assaulted women.


Victim Reactions to Traumatic Events

Studies on victim reactions have focused on aftermath effects, both emotional and cognitive, and on post-trauma decisions such as reporting the attack to police, proceeding with charges, and staying with or leaving the abuser. Fattah (1981) reviewed these studies and concluded that, as far as post-victimization reactions were concerned, generalizations were difficult to make. Victim reactions appeared to depend on a variety of factors, such

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