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Victim Responses Psychology of Crime. Impact of Sex Assault Common Reactions to Rape No longer feel safe Loss of control over life as it was before Loss.

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Presentation on theme: "Victim Responses Psychology of Crime. Impact of Sex Assault Common Reactions to Rape No longer feel safe Loss of control over life as it was before Loss."— Presentation transcript:

1 Victim Responses Psychology of Crime

2 Impact of Sex Assault Common Reactions to Rape No longer feel safe Loss of control over life as it was before Loss of self-worth – feeling damaged Isolation/loneliness Distrust – don’t feel safe with anyone Guilt – “must have done something to provoke the attack”

3 Impact of Sex Assault Failure – let down self, family, and friends Shame/humiliation – feeling unclean Anger/outrage – at the rapist, advocate, unsympathetic people, and/or God Fear – of being attacked again, of the stigma as a rape victim, of own anger and thoughts of retaliation Embarrassment – over physical details of the rape, over admitting they were raped

4 Impact of Sex Assault Depression – as a result of a loss of hope, loss of meaning in life Sleeplessness/nightmares Phobias – intense fears about things associated with the rape (e.g., fear of leaving the house) Fear of spiritual abandonment – b/c rape happened, God has abandoned him/her Suicidal ideation

5 Rape Trauma Syndrome Rape Trauma Syndrome: The emotional, psychological, and social impact of rape Immediately After Rape Victims may exhibit fear, anger, and/or outrage, or By adopting a controlled style of response, exhibit little visible reaction

6 Rape Trauma Syndrome First few days/weeks Victim may experience: bruising and soreness, especially in the neck, throat, arms and legs; gynecological Disturbance in sleep patterns, including getting to sleep, crying out at night, and mumbling during sleep; headaches; fatigue Victims may report feeling distressed, irritable, and jumpy

7 Rape Trauma Syndrome Loss of appetite is also common Victims may also experience sense of disorganization in which their lifestyles are disrupted by the rape crisis Emotionally: fear dominates, but shame, humiliation, degradation, guilt, anger, self-blame and revenge are also common

8 Rape Trauma Syndrome Long term Victims attempt to reorganize their lives but typically have difficulty returning to their daily schedule of activities General sleeplessness may continue, marked by dreams and nightmares Fears and phobias may develop Sexual concerns are widespread

9 Rape Trauma Syndrome Those close to victims Parents/spouses may exhibit physical and emotional symptoms similar to victim’s Close relationships are altered as loved ones struggle to cope with the crime and victim Family and friends may become over- protective or patronizing Pre-existing intimate relationships may be destroyed

10 Stages of Adjustment SHOCK – “I’m numb” DENIAL – “This can’t have happened” ANGER – “What did I do? Why me?” BARGAINING – “Pretend it didn’t happen” DEPRESSION – “I feel so dirty and worthless” ACCEPTANCE – “Life can go on” ASSIMILATION – “It’s part of my life” Adapted from Raped, Deborah Roberts, Zondervan Publishing House, 1981, pp

11 Behavioural and Psychological responses Behavioural Responses- Changes in normal behaviour, staying in, fear of strangers, Psychological responses - fear and anger, depression right up to post traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD)(Learn the symptoms) Rape Trauma syndrome.

12 Specific Symptoms include: Intrusive thoughts - re-experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, generally unable to stop thinking about the event. Avoidant behaviour - avoiding situations that may trigger memories of the event, loss of interest in any pleasurable activities, feelings of numbness in response to everything.

13 Specific Symptoms include: Feelings - pointlessness, increased anxiety, fear of the event happening again, shame, guilt and bitterness. Behaviour - inability to make decisions, irritability, lack of concentration, anger and sometimes violent outbursts. Physical effects - physical illness, depression, hyperactivity and high stress reactions, increased smoking, drinking or drug use.

14 PhysicalPsychologicalBehavioural Insomnia / nightmaresDepression / tearfulnessInability to go out Poor appetite / Weight loss / swallowing and eating problems Anxiety, flashbacks, guilt and self-blame Avoidance of rape-related stimuli; social withdrawal Menstrual irregularitiesDecline in sexual enjoymentIncreasing dependence on others Difficulty in micturation (urinating) Poor concentrationAlcohol / Drug abuse General non-specific complaints: weakness / dizziness / general malaise / faintness / nausea / increased muscle tension Irritability and apathy, phobiasMoving house / cutting off phone Pregnancy / sexually transmitted disease / AIDS risks

15 Factors that increase the distress: if the assault is sexual, if there is stalking involved, if the victim is homeless or a drug abuser, if the victim was already anxious or depressed (Robinson et al, 1998).

16 MacLeod and Paton (1999) the post-event cognitions of the victim are key to the recovery. These include the following: Blame attribution - self-blame actually encourages the victim to feel that they must avoid similar incidents in the future. Perceived control - feeling that they have control of future situations is important. But self-blame with low feelings of control leads to a fall in self- esteem, and problems with recovery. Counterfactual thinking - the process of mentally undoing the event to produce a better outcome (counterfactual thinking) is only helpful if the victim has perceived control over future such events.

17 Central concepts for this topic: Learned helplessness, pathology of power, attribution of blame by victim towards themselves, Just world' hypothesis. Interference with our security and safety (one of Maslow's needs)

18 Learned Helplessness and Depression Seligman (1975) was experimenting on dogs, pairing tones with electric shocks. They prevented the dogs from escaping from the shock, and discovered that after a while 65% of the dogs did not try to escape when either the tone or shock was given. Seligman argued that the dogs had ‘learned helplessness’ He argued that depression was a form of learned helplessness, in effect a conditioned response. It was argued that depressed people had learned that whatever they did was futile, and they had no control over their lives.

19 Criticism of Learned Helplessness and Depression This theory was criticised as it was pointed out that helpless people do not necessarily become depressed. It doesn’t seem to explain the guilt and self blame many depressed people feel (Carson & Adams, 1981). How can you feel guilty about things you have no control over ? The theory was reformulated to include attribution. Attributions were supposedly internal ("it's my fault"), stable ("things can't change"), and global (“this affects everything’). However, research has shown that depression tends to correlate with external locus of control. And there is no evidence that these are causal effects.

20 Just world hypothesis

21 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) In its simplest form, it states that "individuals have a need to believe that they live in a world where people generally get what they deserve and deserve what they get" (Lerner, 1978, p.1030). More specifically, the just world theory has implications in how it may help people maintain the belief that their world is stable and orderly. Growing up, most of us have been taught that hard work and virtue always pay off.

22 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) In addition, most of us believe that good is rewarded and evil is punished. Therefore, it is not very hard to see that we may have come to believe that those who do well in life are good and those who fail must somehow deserve their failure. Subsequently, the just world hypothesis serves an important adaptive function in our life in that it helps us to maintain our belief that we deserve what ever happens.

23 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) Even though rape is a prevalent crime in our society today, as more than 787,000 women were raped or sexually assaulted in the last two years alone, many rapes still go unreported.prevalent crime This could be, in part, due to the phenomenon of "victim blaming" becoming so common in our society.victim blaming

24 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) individuals who have become the victims of misfortune are often judged by outside observers as being responsible for their own fate. Past research indicates (Lerner and Miller, 1978; Kleinke and Meyer, 1990; Kopper, 1996) that victims of rape, like other victims, are often blamed by others for their misfortune.

25 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) Research has shown that the phenomenon of blaming rape victims is related in part to rape myth acceptance (Burt, 1980; Kopper, 1996) and a belief in a just world (Lerner and Miller, 1978; Kleinke and Meyer, 1996).

26 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) Individuals that have a strong belief in a just world can have this belief challenged when they encounter a victim of random misfortune such as a rape victim. The individual wants to believe that the world is a safe, just place where people get what they deserve and deserve what they get. Even when evidence suggests otherwise, the individual is very reluctant to give up this belief that the world is not just.

27 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) In the face of contradicting evidence, research suggests (Kleinke and Meyer, 1996) that people with a high belief in a just world will do one of two things: either they will try to eliminate the suffering of the innocent victims or else they will derogate them for their fate. Since it is impossible to reverse the crime of rape, and thus relieve the victim of her suffering, the rape victim is often subjected to derogation and blame.

28 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) In this manner, the person who believes in a just world can maintain this belief as there is no longer a suffering person, but a woman who deserves her misfortune. The individual may blame the victim on any number of dimensions including her clothing (i.e. revealing blouse, short skirt, etc.), her behavior, (i.e. drinking, flirting, etc.) or her personality (i.e. she is a liar, she wanted attention, etc.).

29 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) Many of these attributions are supported and perpetuated by the acceptance of cultural rape myths by our society (Burt, 1980). rape myths In this manner, the person who believes in a just world can sufficiently maintain the belief in a culturally acceptable way as, in the eyes of our society, there is no longer an innocent victim, but a woman who is deserving of her fate.

30 If a woman dressed like this was raped a believer in a ‘Just world’ would most likely blame the victim not the rapist. What do you think?

31 just world hypothesis Lerner (1965) It must be noted, however, that belief in a just world does not always mean derogation and blaming of the victim. Lerner and Miller (1978) suggest that at least three factors must be present in order for a victim to be derogated by an outsider.

32 just world hypothesis First Factor First, the authors argue that the victim must be seen as an innocent victim in order for derogation to occur. If victims can easily be seen as responsible for causing their suffering, then there is no need to derogate them because there is no violation of the just world hypothesis.

33 just world hypothesis First Factor The victim acted in a manner that brought about the resulting fate and this is in line with what a belief in a just world emphasizes: people get what they deserve. On the other hand, an innocent victim, one who can not be readily blamed for the resulting fate, violates the belief in a just world and is subjected to derogation.

34 just world hypothesis Second Factor The authors argue that a second factor that can affect the derogation of a victim by someone who believes in a just world is the attractiveness or status of the victim. Their research suggests that victims who are highly attractive or that enjoy a particularly high status are derogated less than less attractive or lower status victims. A possible explanation for this discrepancy is empathy felt for the victim.

35 just world hypothesis Third Factor Finally, the authors argue that belief in a just world will not lead to victim derogation when the observer sees some similarities with the victim. For example, Kleinke and Meyer (1990) found that women, regardless of their belief in a just world, tend not to blame or derogate victims of rape. Men’s belief in a just world, however, is strongly correlated with victim derogation.

36 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

37 Survival. People need food, water, oxygen, shelter, clothing and sometimes medical care. They also need to want to survive (the will to live). Safety and Security. People need to live in a place that is as physically safe as possible, and to feel secure in their environment. They need to know that there is some order in the world and that the world "makes sense." Love and Belongingness. People need to feel connected to other people, and to know that they are loved and cared for.

38 Maslow hierarchy of needs Self-Esteem and Meaning. People need to feel good about themselves, keep learning as much as possible and know that their lives have meaning. Self-actualization. Ultimately, people want to feel as though they are the best people they can possibly be, given their unique attributes.

39 Maslow and Victims of Crime What is the state of the person’s physical health? When a person is healthy, he can cope with life more effectively. Even a minor problem like a cold can make life miserable. What are the person’s physical abilities? It is important to focus more on what a person can do than what she cannot do, and to make the most of that ability. If a person has a disability, such as an inability to walk, has she found other effective ways of getting around?

40 Maslow and Victims of Crime How well is the person able to think and process information? We all have different IQ’s, but we all think to one degree or another. Has the person been given the information he needs to get his needs met, and has that information been provided in a way that he can best understand it?

41 Maslow and Victims of Crime How much control does the person have over her emotions (feelings)? When a person’s feelings are "out of control" that person feels "out of control." If she is having difficulty with her emotions, is she receiving the mental health help she needs?

42 Maslow and Victims of Crime Does the person have a spiritual connection? Research has shown that when people have a belief that there is something in the world greater and stronger than they are, they tend to heal faster from physical and emotional pain, and do not feel as though they are all alone in the world.

43 Maslow and Victims of Crime What kind of educational background or life experience does the person have? If a person has been taught what she needs to know to get her basic human needs met, or if she has learned to do as much as she can for herself, she will probably feel as though she is a more competent person. This can give her a sense of pride in herself.

44 Maslow and Victims of Crime Does the person have support from family, friends, service providers or others in the community? If not, he may feel overwhelmed. If so, that support can help him with the areas of his life where he might not be able to do everything by himself.

45 Maslow and Victims of Crime What is the person’s personality like? Some people find the simplest of life’s tasks difficult and stressful. Others find them challenging or even fun. People who view life more positively are usually able to get their needs met more effectively.

46 MacLeod and Paton (1999) see the post-event cognitions of the victim as key to the recovery. These include the following:  · Blame attribution - self-blame actually encourages the victim to feel that they must avoid similar incidents in the future.  · Perceived control - feeling that they have control of future situations is important. But self-blame with low feelings of control leads to a fall in self-esteem, and problems with recovery.

47 MacLeod and Paton (1999)  · Counterfactual thinking - the process of mentally undoing the event to produce a better outcome (counterfactual thinking) is only helpful if the victim has perceived control over future such events.

48 The end


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