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Rape - Caring for the Adult Female Victim / Educational Video

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Uploaded on Jun 13, 2009

National Institutes of Health. National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape. Rape: Caring for the Adult Female Victim. Portrays physical and emotional trauma of rape experience and demonstrates the procedures and approaches that should be used by hospital emergency room personnel when treating rape victims, especially the general physical and pelvic examinations, evidence. Producer: National Institutes of Health. Creative Commons license: Public Domain

Rape is a brutal demonstration of one's power and control over another person. It is frequently employed as a form of domestic abuse. As advocates, community members or legislators, we have an ethical, legal and moral obligation to help rape victims heal by using all of the medical, psychological and legal tools we have to restore their health and dignity.

When victims of any other crimes are injured, they receive the highest standard of care available when brought into a hospital. Gun shot, stabbing and choking wounds are surgically repaired, bandaged and the patient is provided with follow-up care. Victims of rape are not guaranteed the highest standard of care.

When entering a hospital for treatment, rape victims not only must deal with the physical trauma of their injuries, they also must battle the social stigma and personal moral judgments of those who care for them. A rape victim should clearly and compassionately be presented with choices as to whether they want to press charges, allow a rape kit investigation to be performed, speak with a victim's advocate or take drugs to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

As residents of a metropolitan area, we may take for granted that we have easy access to a number of different hospitals. And even with all of our choices as city residents, a woman rendered unconscious as a result of an attack is unable to choose which hospital she is taken to. One in five women will become a victim of rape.

Before effective treatment can be implemented with rape victims, a thorough assessment must be conducted. The assessment should entail a detailed trauma history, including information about the lifetime number and types of trauma experienced by the victim, as well as an evaluation of trauma characteristics, such as whether the person experienced life threat or injury during the rape--factors that are associated with increased PTSD.

It is important that trauma-screening questions are direct and behaviorally specific. For example, questions that use legal terms (e.g., "Have you ever been raped?") yield lower endorsement rates than questionnaires that use behaviorally specific terms (e.g., "Has a man or boy ever made you have sex by using force or threatening to harm you or someone close to you") (Koss, Gidycz, & Wisniewski, 1987). It is also essential that clinicians assess for disorders that co-occur with PTSD, such as major depression, panic disorder, and substance abuse.

Finally, it is important to assess factors that may influence adjustment, such as social support, coping skills, and available resources. For a more detailed description of assessment of trauma and PTSD instruments, please refer to Research Tools and Resources, Screening Measures for Violence.

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