Rape Crisis Syndrome
- Known also as rape trauma syndrome
- Refers to trauma following sexual assault
- May be experienced by all sexual and gender identities
- Definitions (vary by jurisdiction on local, state, and national levels):
- Rape (a legal term), sexual assault (a medical term), or sexual violence (a general term): any form of sexual activity that occurs without consent between a victim and perpetrator(s)/suspect(s)
- Rape/sexual assault/sexual violence: may be associated with the use of force and/or threats, alcohol, and/or illicit and/or prescription drugs
- Rape crisis syndrome is a historical term that has previously been used to define what is now known as the following, differentiated by time lapsed since the inciting event:
- Acute stress reaction (ASR)—up to 3 days following event (no longer recognized in DSM)
- Acute stress disorder (ASD)—3 days to 1 month following event (DSM-5)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—greater than 1 month following event (DSM-5)
- Psychological responses to sexual violence range from transient to chronic and debilitating.
- In the United States, 33% of women and 25% of men have reported experiencing sexual violence during their lifetime.
- The following populations are especially vulnerable:
- Adolescents and young children
- Persons with disabilities
- Elderly adults
- Those with a low socioeconomic status and/or that are homeless
- Sex workers and persons being trafficked
- People living in institutions/areas of conflict/training environments
- 33% of female victims first experienced sexual violence before age 18; 13% first experienced it before age 10
- 25% of male victims first experienced sexual violence before age 18; 25% first experienced it before age 10
- Only 16–38% of victims report to law enforcement, and only 17–43% of victims obtain a medical evaluation.
- History of sexual violence, psychological aggression, physical violence, trafficking, and/or stalking
- Early initiation of sexual activity
- Engagement in high-risk sexual behavior
- Exposure to familial and/or environmental violence
- Consumption of alcohol/use of illicit drugs
- Belief in traditional gender roles
- Primary prevention: Promoting gender equality, teaching skills to prevent sexual violence, empowering and supporting females, and creating protective environments decrease the occurrence of sexual violence perpetration.
- Secondary prevention: HARK screening tool, which includes questions that assess if a patient has felt humiliated (H) and/or afraid (A), and been raped (R) and/or kicked (K) within the past year, is 81% sensitive and 95% specific for intimate partner violence as well as clinically useful (1).
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