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Keywords:

  • cultural beliefs;
  • women survivors;
  • rape;
  • traumatic experience

Abstract

This paper examines how cultural beliefs (cultural constructions) about women influence how women survivors of rape make sense of their traumatic experience. A thematic content analysis of interviews with female survivors of rape was undertaken to provide a systematic description of the phenomenology of the experience. This paper reports on one major finding which highlighted the ways in which cultural beliefs about women, sexuality, and rape become salient to women, and are accessed by them as they struggle to bring meaning to the experience of being raped. The nature of these beliefs and their implications for response and recovery are discussed.