Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS)

Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) refers to the cluster of psychological as well as physical symptoms which rape victims manifest.

Ann Wolbert Burgess and Lynda Lytle Holmstrom specified three stages of RTS: acute, outer adjustment, and renormalization.

Though the amount of time varies, the acute stage typically covers the initial days or weeks after the attack. The victims’ responses may be appear as agitated and emotional, controlled and without much emotion, or in disoriented and poor recall of the crime as they are in shock. The next phase, outward adjustment, covers the months or years after the assault. During this stage, the rape survivors cope through various defense mechanisms while trying to resume their daily lives. In the final stage, renormalization, the survivors come to terms with their maladaptive coping strategies and recover from the guilt and shame which previously haunted them.

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