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PSYC 3310 (64)
Chapter 11

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PSYC 3310
Gwen Jenkins

Chapter 11 – The Trauma of Sexual Assault  Aggravated sexual assaults – a weapon/those that cause bodily harm o More severe sentence than other SAs  no statute of limitations, can be charged @ any time after the offence takes place  the O’connor case led to stricter controls on defence having access to private records of complainants o limitations on kind of evidence defence can bring up about complainants sexual history in court  @ trial sexual assault complainant is called a witness What is the Rape Trauma Syndrome?:  Syndrome- set of symptoms that occur together and may be considered to imply a disorder/disease o Not all symptoms have to exist in every subject  RTS- collection of responses reported by ppl subjected to rape/other sexual abuse  No all rape survivors suffer from same severity of symptoms  Koss/Harvey used ecological model of response to having been raped that emphasized variety of personal event and environ factors that influence recovery from sexual assault o Personal variables of relevance- age, dev stage of victim, rel to offender, ability to make use of social support, meaning assigned to traumatic event by victim, o Event variables of relevance- frequency, severity, duration of event[s], degree physical violence o Environ variables - setting where occurred, prevailing community attitudes/values about SA, availability/quality of victim care  RTS has 2 phases: o Acute crisis phase  Reactions that last for days/weeks, quite severe  Affect all aspects of survivors life, including phys/psych/social/sexual o Long term reactions phase  Is reconstructive, includes survivor coming to terms with their reactions/attempting to deal with the hurt/sadness in an effective way Phase 1 : Acute Crisis Phase:  Initiated immediately after the act  Great disorganization in survivors life o Often they describe it as state of shock  Fallen apart inside  Experience attack over/over in minds, sleep=nightmares  If raped in own beds, affected by insomnia  Scared/anxious/worried/confused  Not just cognitive accounts of anxiety, but physiological exemplars of fear/anxiety: o Shaking/trembling o Racing heart o Pain o Tight muscles o Rapid breathing o Numbness  Moderate/severe depression  Previous sense of invulnerability dissipates in a decrease of self-esteem  Phase 1 reactions have following characteristics: Disruption:  Changes in sleeping/eating patterns  Personality disorganization to varying degrees  Some confused/disoriented, others don’t exhibit such easily observed beh symptoms o Could be cuz later are dazed/numb so unresponsive to environ Guilt, Hostility, and Blame:  When learning friend has been raped, others may react by blaming the victim o Assuming rape could have been avoided  Or they attribute responsibility for rape to the person who was raped  Psychoanalytic theory unfortunately proposed essence of femininity included masochism o Belief that women invite/enjoy sexual aggression  This idea still persists  Victims guilt/self-blame nd  Suggested that self-blaming response may be 2 most frequent after fear o Blame own actions for rape or imply diff behs on their part could have avoided it  2 types of self-blame o Behavioural SB o Characterological SB  Attribution by survivor to stable/uncontrollable aspects of self  Im juts the kinda person who gets raped  In some ppl SB so strong believe rape was their fault or the men cared for them  Others direct aggression/blame men in general or @ society for permitting sexual assaults to occur Regression to a State of Helplessness or Dependency:  No longer feel independent  Sense of autonomy/competence replaced with self-doubt  Feel no longer control lives/what happens to them Distorted Perceptions:  Distrust/pessimism/paranoia Phase 2: Long-Term Reactions:  Restoring order to lives/ re-establishing sense of equilib and feeling of mastery over world  Most improvement 1-3 months after rape o Less than 25% report no symptoms 1 year after attack  Regression in some cases  Reocurr responses o Anxieties, guilt, shame, catastrophic fantasies, feelings of dirtiness, helplessness. Isolation, physical symptoms  Life activities resumed, undertaken ‘superficially/mechanically’  Challenging to understand what happened to them and what are feeling as a process of psych healing moves forward  Cog dev may be impeded by being haunted by traumatic memories  Can feel contradictory feelings all @ same time  Changing of schema/organizing structure as rape led to shifts in beliefs about trust/safety/intimacy  The following as among the major symptoms of this second phase: Phobias:  Phobia- irrational fear, possession of which interferes with affective adaptation to ones environ  Rape can be viewed as classical conditioning stim o Anything associated with it will be feared o Stimulus generalization  If knife was used, -ve reaction to all knives  May be afraid of being alone/going out @ night Disturbances in General Functioning:  Hard to carry out routine aspects of life during 2 phase  Changes in eating patterns/sleeping patterns remain problem  Quality of intimate rels may deteriorate Sexual Problems:  Diff between [non]raped women isn’t frequency of sexual activities but subjective quality of such experiences  Didn’t enjoy sex with partner was much as before were raped o Only exceptions were 2 types of sexual activities:  Affectional rather than sexual [hugging]  Masturbation o Frequency/satisfaction for both were unaffected by rape  Less desire engage in sexual activity Changes in Lifestyle:  Restructure activities, change jobs/appearance/residence The Relationship of Rape Trauma Syndrome to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:  Psych ‘trauma’ is emotional experience resulting from exposure to event that involved actual/threatened death or serious injury/threat to physical integrity of self/others  Most extreme psych reaction to outcome of traumatic experience is post-traumatic stress disorder o Live with painful recollections of horrific experiences, typically characterized by extremes of recall:  Intrusive memories + avoidance of thoughts/feelings about the event  Some say survivors of rape are largest single group of PTSD sufferers  DSM 3 – PSTD: o Dev of characteristic symptoms following psych distressing event that’s outside of range of usual human experience o Is more severe/longer lasting when stressor is of human design than if were disaster of nature/war combat  Symptoms used to demonstrate PTSD: 1. Repeated experiencing of the traumatic event  Intrusive thoughts/recurrent nightmares o Or avoidance of situations/ideas/feelings that were related to traumatic event 2. Psychic numbing o Reduced responsiveness to the environ  In addition to the 2 primary symptoms need @ least 2 of: o Hard falling/staying asleep o Irritability/anger outbursts o Difficulty concentrating o Hypervigilance o Exaggerated startle response o Physiological reactivity upon exposure to events that symbolize/resemble an aspect of traumatic event  Impact of Event Scale [IES] to measure the 1 primary symptoms associated with PTSD o Found that subjects reported experiencing both aspects of primary symptoms o With regard to 2 ,fear stemming from rape caused survivors to restrict daily activities and lifestyles dramatically  Symptoms of avoidance behs, hypersensitivity, difficulty maintaining concentration, intensification of symptoms whenever exposed to rape-related cues  Why some victims dev PTSD but others recover relatively quickly? o Perhaps PTSD is outcome of a fear memory that contains mistaken evals, whereas normal trauma memory that doesn’t result in PTSD reflects evals closer to reality o Those who dev PTSD recall emotional responses/actions during experiences in way that promotes –ve view of themselves, interfering with psych recovery o Another probable factor to whether someone devs PTSD/RTS is whether traumatic experience is shared with others  Discussing traumatic experiences leads to +ve health outcomes What Can A Psychologist Do?  Assess
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