What is “Rape Trauma Syndrome”

“Rape Trauma Syndrome” has been medically defined in a journal which is as under:-

No person exposed to severe trauma is immune to suffering and the signs of that suffering are referred to as symptoms. When these symptoms can be grouped as a pattern over time, they are referred to as a syndrome. Once the pattern becomes entrenched or unlikely to change, and affect a person’s functioning in a permanent way it is referred to as a disorder and is regarded as a mental illness.

Rape Trauma Syndrome

Rape Trauma Syndrome “RTS” is the medical term given to the response that survivors have to rape. It is very important to note that RTS is the natural response of a psychologically healthy person to the trauma of rape so these symptoms do not constitute a mental disorder or illness.

The most powerful factor in determining psychological suffering or damage is the character of the traumatic event itself. Individual personality characteristics count for little in the face of overwhelming events. Physical harm or injuries are also not as great a factor since individuals with little or no physical harm may yet be severely affected by their exposure to a traumatic situation. Before looking at the effects of rape it is therefore important to first examine the character of the trauma that is rape.

Not only is there the element of surprise, the threat of death and the threat of injury, there is also the violation of the person that is synonymous with rape. This violation is physical, emotional and moral and associated with the closest human intimacy of sexual contact. The intention of the rapist is to profane this most private aspect of the person and render his victim utterly helpless.

The character of the event is thus connected to the perpetrator’s apparent need to terrorise, dominate and humiliate the victim. The victim is therefore most likely to see his actions as motivated by deliberate malice, a malice impossible for her to understand. Rape by its very nature is intentionally designed to produce psychological trauma. It is form of organised social violence comparable only to the combat of war, being but the private expression of the same force.

We get nowhere in our understanding of Rape Trauma Syndrome if we think of rape as simply being unwanted sex. Where combat veterans suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, rape survivors experience similar symptoms on a physical, behavioural and psychological level. Some of the symptoms are present immediately after the rape while other only appear at a later stage.

See Also : Bhopal Singh Vs. State of U.P. {Allahabad High Court, 9 May 2016}