Talking about rape is never simple either for victims or other involved individuals because it touches upon multiple personal and social issues. Affecting millions of male and female lives, this type of sexual violence remains a controversial topic today. More than 60% of survivors do not report such experience as rape, which is related to the concept of rape acknowledgment, main characteristics, and mental health outcomes (as cited in Lipinski et al., 2021). Rape is usually understood as unwanted sexual intercourse that includes physical force and psychological coercion (Brown et al., 2019; Lipinski et al., 2021; Oram, 2019). Rape Crisis Centers are commonly introduced around the globe to provide various services to victims, professional treatment, and support at different stages of their experiences. Therapeutic interventions are critical in understanding and solving the rape crisis to empower and protect people who deal with such mental health problems as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, and other emotional effects.
Prevalence & Historical Context
Sexual violence is a serious public health and social problem that has been discussed internationally during the last several centuries. In the beginning, it focused on female experiences and unequal relationships with their husbands and boyfriends (Forde & Duvvury, 2017). Addressing the national reports in the United States and Europe, about 23 million American women and 9 million European women have been raped in their lifetime (as cited in Oram, 2019). Then, the same challenge was recognized in childhood when both boys and girls were significantly traumatized (Forde & Duvvury, 2017). Sexual abuse of children reached approximately 20% among females and 8% among males (as cited in Kim & Kim, 2020). Today, the number of men suffering from sexual abuse continues to grow by 28% in such settings as prisons (as cited in Forde & Duvvury, 2017). Rape-related traumas are usually the same, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and poor social adjustments. Assessment and treatment of these mental health disorders and problems gain serious recognition in modern society because it is not easy to report on such cases and ask for help without questioning self-esteem, confidence, and safety.
Professional help and support are obligatory for rape victims to deal with their emotional and psychological challenges. Today, many profit and non-profit organizations cooperate with populations to identify their problems and offer the best therapeutic interventions. Sexual abuse outcomes are hardly predictable, and experts need to consider a variety of internal and external factors when they help victims and their families. Traumatized women and children face physical and mental consequences and should treat for painful symptoms in hospitals (Kim & Kim, 2020). Interventions are based on traumas and mental states of survivors, but in most cases, they include cognitive-behavioral therapies, counseling, prolonged exposure theory, coping strategies, and interpersonal psychotherapy (Forde & Duvvury, 2017; Kim & Kim, 2020). The major treatment goals are to enhance self-esteem, recover confidence, stabilize a sense of empowerment, decrease trauma and mental health disorder symptoms, and improve social functioning (Schrag & Edmond, 2018). The best practice is never the same for all rape victims because people remain dependent on situations, participants, awareness, and other personal characteristics.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is frequently applied to treat PTSD, depression, and anxiety in rape survivors. At the beginning of the 1990s, Resick, Butler, and other researchers explained that human behaviors are cognitively mediated, and if thinking patterns are properly addressed, positive changes might be observed (as cited in Brown et al., 2019; Kim & Kim, 2020). Therefore, it is important to change the individual’s cognitive appraisal of rape and change the attribution of the event (Brown et al., 2019). False fear structures will be elaborated through prolonged exposure interventions when people approach their negative memories gradually (Kim & Kim, 2020). Victims of any age or gender cannot deal with their negative experiences and rape outcomes, and the task of care providers is to show how to accept the past and hope for a better future.
Combining several interventions is highly recommended to achieve the best results in treatment. Kim and Kim (2020) investigate the benefits of promoting strategies and interpersonal psychotherapy. This approach aims to help victims find a set of skills to manage their traumas (Brown et al., 2019). Many individuals report improvements in 16 weeks after working with a clinician (Kim & Kim, 2020). First, it is important to determine the diagnosis and explore the nature of the relationships in which a patient is involved (Proença et al., 2019). During the next stage, the patient receives help to validate feelings and express emotions. Finally, some gains and achievements should be discussed to show how a person deals with the victim role and reinforces as a survivor (Proença et al., 2019). Coping with personal emotions and using available resources create solid conditions for a person to forget or, at least, accept the fact of rape and continue living.
Counseling interventions play an important role in treating rape victims at different levels. On the one hand, people obtain enough information about rape, statistics, and outcomes that survivors share in rape crisis centers, making this approach individually focused on common issues (Brown et al., 2019). Victims try to take control over a situation and promote healthy behaviors as a part of counseling sessions (Forde & Duvvury, 2017). On the other hand, professional counselors assess patients formally and informally to identify what kind of help might be required (Schrag & Edmond, 2018). They talk to survivors, cooperate with their families, and show the best ways to accept the truth and find confidence with time. Counseling may be organized in groups or individually, depending on the patient’s needs, problems, and expectations. In all cases, communication with an expert is a meaningful contribution to mental health improvement and socialization.
Critical Analysis & Biblical Application
The findings prove that rape is a serious public health problem characterized by several mental health complications and behavioral changes. Most researchers agree that women and children are at a higher risk of being raped, but the number of male rapes cannot be ignored (Forde & Duvvury, 2017; Kim & Kim, 2020; Proença et al., 2019). PTSD, depression, and other psychological diagnoses are reported in rape survivors, requiring professional help and treatment to predict self-harm and isolation (Brown et al., 2019; Lipinski et al., 2021). Sometimes, it is not enough to choose one therapeutic intervention and follow a prescribed plan but to combine approaches and consider personal characteristics and environmental factors (Oram, 2019; Schrag & Edmond, 2018). People are not always ready to accept the truth and continue living their normal lives. Some individuals prefer to hide their experiences, which complicates the possibility of official reporting and support. Therefore, sexual violence must be recognized as a problem to be predicted.
Even in The Bible, the issue of rape is discussed to teach the reader about the crime as a gross violation of God’s will. The human body was created by God, and its poor treatment means a sin. There were cases when women were forced to participate in sexual intercourse against their desire to prove that protection is a supernatural right, and the nation of Israel had God’s blessing against sinful thoughts and actions. As well as murder, rape is not inherent to a fair human race, but sometimes, it happens, and victims should be supported and treated properly to survive this experience with dignity.
Brown, S. J., Khasteganan, N., Brown, K., Hegarty, K., Carter, G. J., Tarzia, L., Feder, G., & O’Doherty, L. (2019). Psychosocial interventions for survivors of rape and sexual assault experienced during adulthood. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2019(11).
Forde, C., & Duvvury, N. (2017). Sexual violence, masculinity, and the journey of recovery. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 18(4), 301–310.
Kim, G. U., & Kim, M. Y. (2020). The effectiveness of psychological interventions for women traumatized by sexual abuse: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 41(5), 385-394.
Lipinski, A. J., Lewin, R. K., Bre’anna, L., Burkley, J. G., Majeed, R., & Beck, J. G. (2021). Exploring ambivalent rape acknowledgment and posttraumatic stress symptoms among college women who have experienced rape: What’s in a name? Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 80.
Oram, S. (2019). Sexual violence and mental health. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 28(6), 592-593.
Proença, C. R., Markowitz, J. C., Prado, E. A., Braga, R., Coimbra, B. M., Mello, T. F., Maciel, M. R., Pupo, M., Povoa, J., Mello, A. F., & Mello, M. F. (2019). Attrition in interpersonal psychotherapy among women with post-traumatic stress disorder following sexual assault. Frontiers in Psychology.
Schrag, R. V., & Edmond, T. E. (2018). Treatment goals, assessment, and evaluation practices in rape crisis centers. Violence and Victims, 33(6), 1055-1071.