The Refuge offers holistic and evidence-based residential treatment in a serene, secluded healing environment for rape related trauma recovery, moving beyond the symptoms to resolve the underlying issues.
About Rape Related Trauma
Rape is a traumatic experience that affects every aspect of a person’s life. An individual’s self-esteem, self-evaluation, hopefulness, thought processes, social interactions, and the way in which they view the world are all impacted. Everyone processes rape and sexual assault differently. In some instances, a person will develop PTSD. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the responses experienced by some after exposure to an event, such as rape or sexual assault, that is outside the realm of normal human experience. The symptoms of PTSD are a normal reaction to an incredibly abnormal situation.
Rape is a criminal act against another person, which is defined as an unwanted sexual act that may include oral, vaginal, or anal penetration. There are two main types of rape: forcible rape and drug- or alcohol-assisted rape. Forcible rape is sexual penetration physically forced on the individual or achieved through the threat of harm. Drug- or alcohol-assisted rape involves the usage of drugs or alcohol to the point where an individual is either completely unconscious or is in such an intoxicated state that they are unable to make a sound decision. While most consider rape as an act of a man against a woman, a traumatic experience such as rape can happen to anyone.
There are many misconceptions that can make it harder for rape victims to cope, including:
- It is not only adult women who are raped; more than half of females raped are under the age of 18
- Many women have been raped more than one time; one in every six women in the United States will be the victim of attempted or completed rape in their lifetime
- One in every 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime
- Women who undergo treatment of rape symptoms were often raped during adolescence or childhood
- 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 12
- Most perpetrators of rape are not strangers; about two-thirds of rapes and assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
- Most rape victims sustain mild or no physical injuries during the rape as they have been threatened with violence if they do not acquiesce to the rapist’s demands
Signs and Symptoms of Rape Related PTSD
There are a number of symptoms that rape victims struggle with after their traumatic experience, including:
Re-experiencing the trauma: Rape victims often suffer intrusive thoughts about the rape. They may have nightmares and flashbacks about the rape. Victims of rape may feel distressed by anything that reminds them of the rape (called a trigger) and may flee when forced to confront a reminder.
Social withdrawal: Rape victims often experience emotional numbing and lose the ability to feel any emotions. This can lead to a lack of interest in maintaining relationships with others. They may no longer have any desire to participate in activities they once enjoyed and have no motivation to complete daily obligations.
Avoidance behaviors: Victims of rape often avoid anything that might remind them of the trauma. When confronted with a trigger, they may feel as though they are reliving the rape. Since anything can potentially be a trigger, over time the places one can go or activities that they can participate in becoming limited.
Increased physiological arousal: Rape victims often remain hyper-alert and hyper-vigilant. Since they hadn’t anticipated the rape the first time, they fear another attack may occur at any time. Being in a constant state of alertness takes a physiological toll, as our bodies are not built for constant hyperarousal. Eventually, our bodies come down from that level of heightened alertness after which many people feel exhausted and tense.
Types of Treatment for Rape Related PTSD At Our Rehab Center
Recovery for rape related trauma is a slow process, but you can heal from the trauma. The goal of rape related trauma treatment is not to forget the rape, but rather to make it easier to deal with so that it won’t continue to negatively affect your life. We are here to help. At our rape related trauma treatment center, we will be there for you throughout the entire recovery process. When you come to our rehab center, you are joining a family.
Our residential treatment center has many types of therapeutic techniques to help you process and come to terms with your experience, control your stress reactions, and re-establish a sense of hope. We will provide you with the skills needed to take back control of your life. Our empirically-validated treatment approaches for rape related trauma may include:
Exposure therapy is a common method of treatment at our center that has been effective for helping those who have reap-related trauma. During this therapy, we teach you coping techniques such as deep breathing and relaxation before asking you to remember the event in as much detail as possible. Exposure therapy is done in a safe environment with a therapist who will be able to control the amount of exposure you experience and we stop if your feelings exceed your coping abilities. Over time, the memories lose the power they had over an individual and become distant memories that can no longer control the individual’s life.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) explores emotions such as mistrust of others, hyper-vigilance, detachment, withdrawal, rejection, avoidance, and emotional numbing. All of these factors may contribute to the loss of your social network. Restoring a social network is critical for rape victims — supportive social relationships are one of the most powerful resiliency factors that protect against many stressors. Our center uses short-term treatments such as discussion and mapping out the loss of the social network and discussing techniques and coping strategies that can be used to restore it.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) addresses negative thoughts about the rape and shows how they affect your feelings and behavior. This therapy focuses on distorted, irrational, or inaccurate thoughts related to self-blame and other rape related beliefs that may have developed since the rape. You will be taught to replace these thoughts to become more positive which alters your feelings and behaviors in positive ways.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) focuses on the here and now. This meditation-based treatment at our rehab center allows you to focus on your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations as you are currently experiencing them. You place yourself in the middle of your current reality and examine bodily sensations, your thoughts, emotional state, and the connection between the three. Using MBCT allows you to experience the way you feel from every angle and provides a coping system to calm yourself down. Common themes often explored in MBCT include dealing with barriers and obstacles to healing, thoughts are not facts, how to best take care of yourself, recognizing risk factors and coping without being triggered, and prevention of falling into old habits.
Intensive Family Therapy – Family Week – At our rape related trauma treatment center, we understand how important family members and loved ones are in your healing process. We make sure to incorporate them into your evaluation and treatment process. We have a special program for family members to help them cope with their own issues and learn ways to discuss your experience in a safe environment. We provide education about rape related PTSD and trauma, your treatment, and plans for discharge.
Evidence-based treatment – Our center recognizes that different individuals may experience and process events in a variety of ways – including through the senses. Some of the sensation-based treatments at our rehab center include:
- Dramatic experiencing
- Art therapy
- Ropes course
- Creative expression
- Sharing through speaking aloud to the group
- Music therapy
As your time with us draws to a close, we will work closely with you to create a plan of care that meets your continuing therapeutic needs. Many people continue their treatment in a structured outpatient service and opt for a partial hospitalization program (PHP). Some people feel that they have made enough progress to continue healing on an outpatient basis. We will set you up with outpatient referrals and can even schedule your first appointment with a therapist. We’ll also provide referrals to local community resources to help you continue your healing.