Sexual Aggression as a Problem
Rape and other forms of sexual violence leave enduring, devastating effects on the victims. Dunn, Vail-Smith and Knight (1999) described rape as a [traumatic, life-altering experience] (p. 213). Research has demonstrated that rape victims suffer from lingering feelings of excessive vulnerability, agoraphobia, and sexual anxieties (Resick, Veronen, Kilpatrick, Calhoun, & Atkeson, 1986; Mayer & Ottens, 1994). Lansky (1995) presented case evidence of victim nightmares that extend beyond the sexual violence itself to feelings of shame, guilt and fragility. Frank, Anderson, Stewart, Dancu and West (1988) reported that along with nightmares, sexual assault victims also suffer from major depression, increased suspicion, somatic symptoms, and problems with social functioning (as cited in Mayer & Ottens, 1994).
Other researchers have also identified long-term effects of sexual violence on victims. Calhoun, Atkeson, and Resick (1982) identified chronic fear reactions among rape survivors. Burgess and Holmstrom (1985) purported that rape victims suffer from a variety of enduring, debilitating effects they labeled as [Rape Trauma Syndrome] (RTS). Among the symptoms of RTS are guilt, numbness, hyper-alertness, difficulties in sleeping, memory/concentration impairment, and reliving the trauma.