ephraimsi79 (ephraimsi79) wrote,
ephraimsi79
ephraimsi79

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Rape Trauma Syndrome (Continued)

Now that I've layed out the full description of RTS in my last entry, I'd like to talk a little about one of the styles in which rape victims respond to the assault/rape.

If a survivor uses the Controlled style, they contain their emotions. Most of the survivor's energy is directed toward maintaining composure. They may sit calmly, respond to questions in a detached, logical way, and downplay their fear, sadness, anger, and anxiety.


I can attest that in my time, I've come to have more than a few of my female friends that've been
either raped or assaulted, and not only was their initial reaction to contain and maintain their
emotions and full composure, but even well after the incident, say anywhere from the first few months
through the next several years, they often did nothing to try and deal with the devastating emotion/mental affects and repercussions.

My best friend Laura was attacked at age twenty. When the perpetrator was finished with her, he made sure to tell her that if she ever wondered why he chose her, it was because quote, "She looked so damn good."

For Laura, what followed was several years during which she spent being house-bound, given to cutting and other forms of self mutilation, and avoidance of social gatherings.

Permit me to state, I still maintain that we men can NEVER truly know what damage it does to a woman - physically, emotionally, or mentally - to be violated and ravaged in only the worst way a woman can be defiled!

And yet, one question out of many might be, Just how does a rape/assault victim make the transition from victimhood to survivor?


Victimhood is a state from which all groups (or individuals) need to recover in order to lead normal lives. Victimhood is not only a perception of self, but of self in a system of relationships. Acknowledging victimhood as a problem is the first step toward recovery. Part of the healing process for victims is regaining self-esteem and relearning that the "other" is also human and that this "other" has suffered as well. This process allows the groups to begin to transform the system in which victimization was made possible into something much more positive.

Necessary elements for healing from the trauma of victimhood include safety, space, and time for the group to go through a process of mourning, empowerment, and eventual reconciliation with the enemy. In order to heal, the group must begin to feel safe from the possibility of any further unjustified aggression. Without establishing such safety, healing cannot even start. Once safety becomes less of a concern, victims can begin to heal through a remembrance and mourning process.[10]

It is also crucial that any victimized group receive acknowledgment from the international community of their suffering. However, a victimized group may not always want the world at large to take responsibility in a meaningful way for the group's suffering or for remedying the situation. Israel, for example, consistently refuses international military presence within its borders because it wants to retain control over its own affairs.

A process of empowerment is important in addressing people's desire for some degree of control. Trauma causes its victims to feel a loss of control over their destinies as well as an inability to change their situations. Therefore, as Herman and others indicate, in order to recover from victimhood, victimized individuals or groups must feel that they have regained power and control over themselves.[11] This is necessary to enable better functioning and also to make dialogue and eventual coexistence with the enemy possible. Survivors of victimhood and trauma have a deep need to feel as though they are in complete control of their lives and future.

Recovery from victimhood also seems to depend on forgiving the enemy, as well as recognizing one's own wrongdoings and accepting responsibility for them. Ideally these processes should be mutual and reciprocal. It should also be understood that certain steps in the process may need to be repeated.

The following points are some of the generally agreed-upon benchmarks needed for a successful healing process:

Safety from violence and humiliation.
A general agreement on the history of the conflict.
Mutual acceptance of responsibility, contrition, and finally, forgiveness.
Public expressions by respected representatives of each group that voice or demonstrate the new relationship and understanding.[12]
L.A. Pearlman has gone more into depth in designing a healing process for victims. The following requirements parallel those above but add some extra dimensions to the process:[13]

Respect, which is gained through some or all of the following: acknowledgment, justice, atonement, mutual forgiveness.
Information or the truth about relevant events, about mass genocide and killing, and about the reality of traumatic stress and how to recover from it.
To regain a sense of connection with oneself and with others.
Hope in God (or something spiritual), for the community, for other people, or a positive vision of the future.[14]
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