The Psychological Effects Of Rape On Women Psychology Essay

According to the Indian Penal Code- in Section 375, rape is stated as “who except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following description- against her will; without her consent; by threatening to hurt her, or someone concerned to the victim; when she believes she is lawfully married to the individual and thus consents to the act; when she was of unsound mind, or intoxicated while giving consent; or when she is under the age of 16 years [1] .

There is a common understanding that women are the usual victims of rape. But there are a number of cases of raped men, although it does occur less often.

Rape is of various types, statutory rape, date rape, spousal rape, gang rape, rape of prisoners of war and prison rape. The experience of rape is not just a physical one; it is emotionally and mentally scarring to the victim. The effects of the rape can last for years, in some cases it causes permanent aversion to sexual behaviour and also social awkwardness .Either way the victim is left physically, psychologically and emotionally scared.

Often the trauma of the rape can be so severe that the victim needs to be hospitalized and institutionalised in order to recover fully from the ordeal. The Rapist isn’t necessarily an unknown person. Rapes by uncles, fathers, ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands, husbands, and friends are also widely known to occur. Basically, you can never say, you’re really safe. In the year 2005, there were around 18359 cases of rape reported. Out of this 86.4% of the offenders were known to the offenders. [2] 

The researcher has adopted doctrinal form of research in completing this project. As the project is primarily a study on the Psychological Effect of Rape on Women, The doctrinal form of research was most appropriate, as factual diagnosis and symptoms had to be referred to. Primary sources of information the NALSAR Law Library. The above states sources consisted of books from the Library. Also, Secondary soft copy sources of information have been perused from online databases to find diagnosis and symptoms of psychological syndromes referred to in the Project. No part of this project is plagiarized and it is the original work of the researcher

When the family of the victim, recognises these symptoms they need to seek medical attention either by an intervention or by voluntary treatment. Suicide is obviously no trivial matter and carries a weight of emotions. Although is most cases the ideation is passive and there are merely thoughts of killing oneself it must still be treated. Repeated thoughts of suicidal ideation or thoughts could lead to injuring oneself wither by accident in an effort to actually carry out the thoughts, or could even lead to the practice of cutting or self mutilation [8] .


Self mutilation is a practice by which an individual purposefully or intentionally cuts or injures oneself. They pain felt is viewed as a punishment or a purge. Some victims even feel that concentrating on the pain from the wounds or cuts helps temporarily forget the pain of the rape itself. Some individuals also cut to punish themselves as they feel the rape is they’re fault; or they are blamed for the rape. (Victim blaming has been explained briefly) [9] 


Often some victims are also blamed for the rape. There is a large group of people who believe in the “just world hypothesis.” The theory basically believes that the world in inherently just and only that which is deserved is done to people. Most people believe in this so they may have a false sense of security in the world. To prevent themselves feeling unsafe, they convince themselves that they would not be rapes because they don’t deserve it. Another branch of people believe in derogating the victim. They suggest that the victim brought the rape upon herself. The girls behaviour, manner or dress, style of speaking etc, brought the rape upon her and it was no or of little fault of the rapist. In this case, not only do women have to suffer having been raped and the constant reminders and memories of the incident, but now her reputation is also questioned to add to her trauma. [10] 

In some cases rape victims do not even report the rape or keep it to themselves. The reason for this is that several communities, raped women are considered dirty or unclean. Virginity is viewed as a sign of purity, thus even if a woman loses her virginity against her will she will suffer at the hands of the community. Her prospects of marriage suffer, her family and her are bad mouthed. Because these victims do not seek help or attention after the rape, the effects can sometimes be even more profound.

Over the world it has been noted that there is a lack of sensitivity when dealing with a rape victim. The law enforcement, more often than not, end up being harsh or even brutal in their treatment of the victim. In their aim of confirming the truth of the victims statement they land up damaging her even more. Not only must the victim have to recount n mentally re-experience the whole ordeal. She then has to endure constant unsympathetic questioning.

In her book “Rape and the Legal process” Jennifer Temkin, mentions an extract from the Police Review which describes how best to deal with reports of rape. Part of the extracts reads as follows; “allow her (the victim) to make her statement to a policewoman and then rive a horse and cart through it.” The reasoning behind it is to ensure that some vindictive women do not accuse boyfriends, lovers etc of rape in an effort to protect their own dignity or just simply for revenge [21] . Rape laws over the world are different. Under Pakistani law, a raped woman, must have four witnesses to prove the crime occurred. It is absurd for any legal system to request victims to have witnesses to prove a crime occurred, when physical and genetic evidence could be obtained [22] . In some countries of the Middle East, honour killings are practiced against women who are deemed to have brought shame on their families, due to the rape. [23] 

Apart from this, if the case ever reaches court, the victim will usually be questioned again. The treatment of victims in courts has been put under the scanner several times. Past sexual behaviour, to make the victim seem promiscuous to disprove the rape occurs often. The continuing questioning of the victim about the rape to test for changes in her story, trying to prove that the victim is crying foul and there was no rape. These are all methods used in courts which the victim must bear with. All of which do in some way have a deteriorating effect on the mental constitution of the victim [24] .


The various psychological illnesses and disorders listed above can last a lifetime with some patients. Thus the single instance of rape could affect the victim for a lifetime. It is thus fair to say that rape is not just a physical assault on women but a psychological assault. In fact, as illustrated above, the physical scars will heal and disappear, but the mental imagery and memory of the effect can stay forever. The single instance could completely alter a person’s nature. In several cases mentioned above the victims personality could alter totally. Such as depression, dissociative disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. Extensive counselling is required to help the victim get over the rape and the various harmful effects of the rape. In order to ensure the victim does not self destruct due to constant mental reoccurrence of the event. Recovery from rape is a complicated and controversial concept. Some people believe that with counselling and time you can recover completely from a rape. Others maintain that some aspect of the rape will be with the victim of the assault forever. Some argue that recovery is the wrong term because it is associated with illness or disease and that the effects of a sexual assault should not be viewed in such a light

Women are not as safe as they used to be, anywhere. Eve teasing, molestation and other crimes have increased dramatically in the last few years. And that is only in the number of reported cases. Rape is especially on the increase recently. With rapes being committed in universities colleges by classmates, such as the TISS incident of social sciences, a girl cannot say she is safe even if with known individuals. What is even worsening the situation the availability of veterinary sterilisation drugs being used by rapists as “date-rape” drugs, thus leaving the victim with no memory of the incident.

When it come to the legal process and social reaction to the rape, the rape victims need to be treated with sensitivity, empathy and understanding. We have to remember who the real victim is in this situation. Even if it is to rule out the possibility of a false accusation, to treat the victim as if she is the one committing the wrong will be to punish her further.