Rape Trauma Syndrome

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Rape Trauma Syndrome

Forensic Psychology 44.343.201

By: Hannah Elliott
October 14th 2012

There are plenty of television shows and cases on the news that show or talk about rape victims, but it doesn’t impact us as much as it should. Do you know the mental or emotional trauma that these victims go through after they have become a rape victim?
Rape is one of the harshest forms of criminal violence against another human being. The victim is rendered powerless by physical force, threats, or fear after which being forced to submit to sexual acts, including vaginal penetration, oral copulation, sodomy. The victim suffers intrusion to the most private and intimate parts of the body and a person’s life. These victims do not only experience immediate trauma, but long term and sometimes, permanent trauma can occur. Victims who appear to have healed months after the trauma will always have flashbacks or things that trigger feelings to come back to the surface.
Ann Wolbert Burgess and Lynda Lytle Holmstrom first coined the termed Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) about thirty years ago after analyzing ninety-two rape victims that were admitted to the emergency room of Boston City Hospital. They recognized this syndrome as a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and defined Rape Trauma Syndrome as an ‘acute stress reaction to a life-threatening situation (Bourke, 2012).’ They studied cases that happened prior to 1969 and observed how the laws changed over decades to include the victim in the court process instead of just protecting them. Burgess and Holmstrom also divided the Rape Trauma Syndrome into two different phases to help diagnose the victims and help them in the healing process and to come to terms with the trauma that happened to them.
The victims of crimes have been around since the early developments of the country but they have never been involved in the court process like they are in today’s century. During the Golden Age, which blossomed about two



Bibliography: Bourke, J. (2012). Sexual violence, bodily pain, and trauma: A history Cherry, K. (2010). What is forensic psychology?. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/branchesofpsycholog1/f/forensicpsychology.htm Doerner, W., & Lab, S. (2011). Victimology. (6th ed., pp. 1-3).

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