Effects of Rape: Psychological and Physical Effects of Rape

The effects of rape, including physical and psychological effects on rape victims, are traumatic. Learn about the effects of rape, aftermath of rape.

The effects of rape can include both the initial physical trauma as well as deep psychological trauma. Although rape victims commonly report injuries and issues with their reproductive health after the sexual assault, rape doesn't always involve physical force. The most common and lasting effects of rape involve mental health concerns and diminished social confidence.

Physical Effects of Rape

Physical effects of rape can arise from both forced sexual assault and those not involving forcible submission, such as drug assisted date rape. Forced sexual assault frequently causes visible bruising or bleeding in and around the vaginal or anal area and bruises on other parts of the body from coercive violence. But both forced and other types of rape can have many other physical consequences:

  • Painful intercourse (with significant other)
  • Urinary infections
  • Uterine fibroids – non-cancerous tumors in muscle wall
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) – HIV, genital warts, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and others

Psychological Effects of Rape

Victims experience both short and long-term psychological effects of rape. One of the most common psychological consequences of rape is self-blame. Victims use self-blame as an avoidance-based coping tool. Self-blame slows or, in many cases, stops the healing process. Other common emotional and psychological effects of rape include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – feelings of severe anxiety and stress
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks – memories of rape as if it is taking place again
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Sleep disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Dissociative identity disorder
  • Guilt
  • Distrust of others – uneasy in everyday social situations
  • Anger
  • Feelings of personal powerlessness – victims feel the rapist robbed them of control over their bodies

Aftermath of Rape

The aftermath of rape involves a cluster of acute and chronic physical and psychological effects. It's important that victims receive comprehensive care that addresses both the short and long-term effects of rape as they become apparent. Frequently a victim's intimate relationship, if present prior to the assault, disintegrates within one year after the rape. This only adds to the psychological impact of the rape on the victim. Victims of extremely violent rape, or those who were assaulted repeatedly or at a very young age, may need treatment for the rest of their lives. (more infomation about: Treatment for Rape Victims)

article references

nextGetting Raped: The Stigma of Being A Rape Victim
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Last Updated: May 26, 2016

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD