Rape has immediate and long-term effects on the victim/survivor. The most common long term effects of sexual assault and rape are invisible ones.
Immediate symptoms of rape trauma include:
- Unpredictable and intense emotions.
- An exaggerated startle response or alarm reaction to various stimuli which may or may not be related to sexual harassment.
- Memories and intrusive thoughts about the assault, nightmares, difficulty in sleeping and difficulty in concentrating.
Long-term psychological effects of rape include:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Rape trauma syndrome (RTS).
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
- Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).
- Eating disorders, self injury, self blame, panic attacks, flashbacks, bo
dy memories and sleeping disorders.
Four major symptoms of rape-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are:
- Re-experiencing the trauma – uncontrollable intrusive thoughts about the rape.
- Social withdrawal.
- Avoidance behaviors (a general tendency to avoid any thoughts, feelings, or cues).
- Irritability, hostility, rage and anger.
Sometime survivors of rape and sexual trauma mask their symptoms in order to function in society. In many cases, these effects can be life-long unless the survivor gets immediate psychological and physical support and care. Fortunately, there are resources available for support, counseling and recovery.