Rape can be defined as a form of sexual assault usually involving intercourse or other form of sexual penetration carried out against a person without the person’s consent. This may be done by forms of physical force, abuse of authority or on a person unable to give a valid consent, such as an unconscious person, someone with intellectual disability or a minor.
Reasons for rape may vary from anger issues, sadism, or need to exert anger. American clinical psychologist David Lisak said that compared with non-rapists, rapists are measurably more angry at women and more motivated by a desire to dominate and control them, are more impulsive, disinhibited, anti-social, hypermasculine or less empathetic.
In some areas in Paupa New Guinea, gang rape is used as a punishment towards women for inappropriate clothing or visiting bars, with permission from elders. So causes of rape could also be traditional beliefs or mode of upbringing.
Effects of rape can be psychological or physical. Psychological effects are those that are visible only in behavioural patterns. Examples of these effects include; selective mutism, anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction and even suicide.
Physical effects of rape are the effects that can be seen and easily treated by doctors. Examples include; gynaecological disorders, pelvic inflammatory disease, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, injuries, and unsafe abortion.
During a sexual assault, people respond in various ways including fighting, freezing up or in some cases, complying with the rapist to reduce injuries and complications. This can cause confusion for others as it is believed that when in a rape situation, it is only normal to call for help. However, psychologists say it is not a rare situation. In fact, cooperation is sometimes seen as a survival response as damage would be minimal.
Dissociation could occur after rape, in the sense that the event starts to become a blur, fragmented memories difficult to decipher. Also, research shows that a boy could ejaculate during rape and a girl could orgasm. This proves to be confusing to many as may serve as a source of shame to the victim.
Trauma symptoms may not take place immediately after a rape has occurred, and this is mostly because the victim might still be in shock and/or denial. After a couple weeks however, victim would start to show signs of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS commonly known as PTSD). Victim may express themselves in various ways ranging from acting outwardly or becoming reserved, feeling helplessness, repulsion and guilt.
A person going through PTSS would relive the rape incident over and over in their heads, suffer nightmares, night terrors, numbness and increased anxiety. The likelihood of this psychological factor is increased if the victim personally knew the rapist or felt like they were going to die.
Most people recover from rape in about three to four months, but may have persistent PTSS that may manifest in anxiety, sleeping disorders, phobias and difficulty in returning to their social life and sexual function.
A troubling effect of rape is victim blaming and mistreatment. Society seems to be turning a blind eye to rape victims. Boys cannot come out and admit they were assaulted because society would put him down, saying he is not ‘man enough’. Young girls who report rape cases are always asked questions like ‘what were you wearing? Who were you with? Where were you?’ forgetting that some men are sex maniacs and would prey on unsuspecting victims regardless of how decent they were.
Due to victim blaming, a great deal of people are afraid and/or embarrassed to admit they were raped and would instead keep to themselves, suffering the terrible effects in silence. Some victims may even go as far as ending their lives and the perpetrators are allowed to rome freely and commit more crimes.
When a person reports an incident of rape, priority should be placed on capturing the rapist and making sure they are punished according to the law. Rape kit can be given to the victim for further proof as many people appear to find pleasure in falsely accusing others of rape. Once this is done, victim needs to be taken to a psychologist for evaluation and mental healing.
Victim would also need to see a doctor to check for injuries and diseases so as to be treated immediately and in case of pregnancy, rather than make a victim feel worse for something that is totally out of their control, they need to be supported and given all the love so they don’t seek abortions that could go wrong and result in infertility or worse.
While definition and effects (physical and mental) have been stated, the topic of how to avoid rape still stands.
In normal upbringing, girls are taught to be wary of guys. Mothers and guardians give advices such as ‘if a guy touches you, you’d get pregnant’. While educating girls on sex and its adverse effects, it is not enough to put an end to this challenge. A lot of parents seem to forget it is equally important to teach boys the importance of being gentlemen and seeking consent from girls. Perhaps it has to do with the knowledge that boys cannot get pregnant that people seem to forget how important it is to instil sexual discipline in boys.
A lot of actions committed by men are overlooked and people would comment ‘that’s just the way men are’. But should it be so? How can we hope to eradicate this problem if we focus only on one side of the coin? How can we exterminate rape if we fold our arms, turning a blind eye to events folding right before our very eyes? Boys and girls alike need to be groomed to know the importance of abstinence, seeking consent and contraceptive measures.
Children also need to be listened to. Many parents shy away from the discussion of sex because it makes them feel uncomfortable or because they feel the less their children know, the better. This isn’t so because when a child feels raging hormones and have no proper guidance, it may lead to sexual frustration and they are more likely to turn to the wrong people for advice.
In conclusion, in order to avoid rape, both gender ought to work hard and understand the importance of consent. If there is no proper consent, then it is rape.
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