Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Rapist You Know

Traumatic Results

Rape myths work to reinforce a woman's fear of the consequences of reporting an assault to the police. Many women fear ridicule, the impact on their reputation, publicity, testifying in court, exposing their sexual past, and even retaliation from the assailant or his friends.

Acquaintance rapists are much more likely to use manipulation and/or incapacitation by alcohol or other drugs, rather than using a gun or a knife. The acquaintance rapist is a manipulator. Subtle psychological coercion, manipulation or the use of alcohol and/or drugs are common tools used to lower a woman's resistance and to guarantee her submission. All of these ploys are designed to confuse and cloud a woman's judgment, reducing a woman's ability to resist. Given the burden to prove that the attack was forced, against a woman's will, and that she resisted the attack, acquaintance rape is hard to prove.

The trauma caused by acquaintance rape, however, is no less severe than the trauma that is associated with rape by a stranger. Victims can suffer physically, emotionally and financially. Rape-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, a condition suffered by almost one-third of all rape victims, includes sleeping and eating disorders, nervousness, fatigue, withdrawal from society and distrust of others. Many victims suffer from one or several of these symptoms and some victims are affected for many years. Many acquaintance rape victims never reach out for the services and assistance they need in the aftermath of their victimization. That was true for Sara who said she drifted away from the friends she shared in common with her rapist Steve. She never received counseling nor did she report the attack.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual assault Contact the National Center for Victims of Crime for help, information about your options, and referrals to local services anywhere in the country.  Phones are open Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 8:30 pm EST at 1-800-FYI-CALL (394-2255) or TTY line, 1-800-211-7996.


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