Effects of a Rape Experience: A Longitudinal Study


Department of Psychiatry and Behavorial Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425.


After reviewing previous work on psychological effects of a rape experience, this paper reports the results of a longitudinal investigation of victim reactions to rape. Adult victims (N = 20) were assessed at 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year postrape, and a group of matched non-victims (N = 20) were assessed at similar intervals. Findings were that victims were significantly more anxious, fearful, suspicious, and confused than nonvictims for at least a year after their assaults. However, there was significant improvement on those as well as other measures of personality and mood state over time, particularly between 1 and 6 months. Implications of these findings with regard to both social learning and feminist theory and therapy are discussed.