Rape trauma syndrome

Rape trauma syndrome

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

The term rape refers to sexual intercourse without consent. It is a violent assault in which sex is used as a weapon. Rape inflicts varying degree of physical and psychological trauma. Rape trauma syndrome occurs during the period following the rape or attempted rape; it refers to the victim's short-term and long-term reactions and to the methods the victim uses to cope with the trauma.

In 99.9% cases, the rapist is the male and the victim is female. However, rapes do occur between persons of same sex.

Rape is not primarily about sex. It is violent crime linked to feelings of rage or hatred in the assailant. Some of the culture, sociological, and psychological factors that contribute to rape are increased exposure to sex, permissiveness, cynicism about relationship, feelings of anger, and powerlessness amid social pressures. Many rapists have feelings of violence or hatred toward women or sexual problem such as impotence or premature ejaculation. They may feel socially isolated and be unable to form warm, loving relationships. Some rapist may be psychopaths who need violence for physical pleasure, no matter how it affect their victims; others rape to satisfy a need for power, some were abused as children.

The exact prevalence is unknown, but it occurs very often. The incidence of reported rate is highest in large cities and continues to rise. However, many rapes - possibly even most are never reported.

The age group most affected is 10-to 19-year-old. The average victim age is 13. About one is seven reported rapes involves a prepubertal child. Most rapists are between ages 25 and 44 and alcohol and drugs involved in many cases.


Symptoms are unexplainable, but may include:


  • Anxiety.

  • Depression.

  • Nightmares. If the patient is alone, she may also suffer from daymares.

  • Shaking.

  • Crying.

  • Anger.

  • Fear.

  • Revenge.

  • Loss of appetite.

  • Suicidal ideation.


Assess vital signs in patients with major wounds. Be alert for a 20-beat increase pulse and 20 mmHg drop in blood pressure, increased respiratory rate, decreased level of consciousness, thirst, clammy skin, all indicates hypovolemic shock. Administer oxygen as needed. Send blood samples for laboratory for type and crossmatch, complete blood count (CBC) including hematocrit and hemoglobin level, and prothrombin time/proTime (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT).


Treatment consists of supportive measures and protection against HIV infection, venereal diseases, and testing for pregnancy if patient wishes. If the patient has lacerations then repairing lacerations is the primary treatment done by the physician.

Refer the patient for Psychological Counseling to cope with the aftereffects of the attack. Recovery from the rape is very difficult and need long-term measures. To help her to cope with this heinous crime, encourage her to write her thoughts, feelings, and reactions in a daily diary and refer her to Rape Crisis Center and Women Organized Against Rape for supportive care.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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