Rape: The Emotional And Psychological Aspects And Its Consequences

Author: Simran, B.A. LL.B. (Hons), Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan

*Author has written this article while pursuing training program on article writing by indianlegalsolution.com


Rape and Sexual Assault is a sad reality of life. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines Rape. Rape is reported as a rapidly-growing violent crime. Sexual harassment and rape are very harmful because it not only affects the victim physically but mentally as well. Therefore it requires more attention because their consequences may include long-term mental health concerns. Sexual assault may be any form of sexual contact without the voluntary consent of the victim. Unwanted sexual assault includes kissing, verbal coercion, rape, attempted rape. Victim of rape has to suffer a lot more after the rape because of the blaming of the victim by the society. One can improve physically over a period of time but the incident affect the victim so badly and because of that the victim suffers stress, anxiety, fear, depression and eating disorders. This article discusses the emotional and psychological effects of rape and how can that incident affect the victims mentally and physically.

Psychology of Rape:

Case Study:

Santosh Kumar Singh v. State[1]

Priyadarshini was 25 years old and she was a Law Student. She was first raped and then murdered in her home. She had complaint multiple times of threats, harassment and stalking against the culprit, Santosh Kumar Singh, who was also a student of Law. Repeated allegations made by the deceased turned out to be unquestionably pointless in that they did not persuade against the accused who continued to irritate her. In this case, the shocking evidence appeared to have been made by the Additional Session Judge, G.P. Thareja, in the case of Ms Priyadarshini Mattoo, in which he acquitted the defendant, finally represents the tragic state of our justice system. This is one of the charges that has sparked public outrage over the mismanagement of justice by a high-profile and powerful defendant, Santosh Kumar Singh who is the son of a senior IPS officer. Later, the Delhi High Court held Santosh Kumar Singh guilty and sentenced him to death. Later on, the Supreme Court of India converted the death penalty to life imprisonment.

In this case, it can be seen that the psychology of the culprit maybe was that his father is an IPS Officer and he can do anything which he wants because he knew at that time that he could be released because of his father’s post.

  • Why do men rape?

 Various aspects of rape have been discussed worldwide. Why do men actually rape?

 Disadvantaged men: including men who were encouraged to rape if they had no other means of getting tested. This is also called the Disadvantaged male theory or the Mate Deprivation theory. The data show that rape is carried out unequally by men with low socioeconomic status.

Opportunistic rapist: Such men usually seek out obedient women. But they can change to sexual oppression and rape if women do not obey or if related factors such as the chances of revenge against the victim, the victim’s family, and society are very low.

High mating effort rapist: Such rapists are more sexual, aggressive. They use natural mating techniques and often pursue many partners with less investment. They frequently use coercion and rape when non-coercive strategies fail. In this case, they are like opportunistic rapists.

Partner rapist: Men are encouraged to rape their partners under conditions of increased “risk of sperm competition”. Sperm competition is potential competition between different male sperm to female eggs. Between 10-20% of women report being raped in marriage. Such rape occurs when a man suspects his partner’s infidelity.[2]

  What makes a person a criminal? A person steals when he needs something. They kill with the intent of taking revenge or with zeal. But what makes a person a rapist? What makes a man hurt a woman so badly without any doubt? Unless we understand what causes a person to commit such a heinous crime, how do we prevent these incidents? A man does not rape her just because he has sex relations, but because of his hatred for the opposite sex. It is basically toxic sperm. A sense of privilege because they consider themselves to be superior sex. They did it because they thought that the action would show their great power.

  • Can a woman rape a man?

In the Indian Penal Code, section 375 says that rape can be done only by man. A woman cannot rape a man but a woman can sexually harass a man. However, this debate is ongoing where one says that a woman can also rape a man and the other says that a woman cannot rape a man. Many Others says that a woman can also rape a woman. Because many think that women can also rape a man and the law should be gender-neutral, but it has been seen in many cases where the ratio of women where they had a part of rape is very less we can say negligible as compared to men.

 Friends and Family Factors:  Pattern of boy’s upbringing or male enculturation and sexual literature

  • The environment of children at an early age:  Rape is a learning curve for adults due to history of sexual abuse in childhood. Such experiences bring about an order in which men are more likely to be violent, to refrain from doing anything wrong, to have false ideas, and to be unhealthy about sex.
  • Respect for the family and sexual purity: It has been seen that many a time the family’s reaction to sexual violence seems to blame women without punishing men. At that time family’s focus is not on punishing the offender but rather re-establish the family’s lost reputation.it has always seen that a family is protecting the women from being raped rather than to teach male to not to do such kind of wrong act. However the society repeatedly inspires the family to do anything which is must including  “honor killing” to reduce the embarrassment connected with rape.

The sexual orientation of men is a very common perception of rape. Men are raised to be sexually dominant and to conquer. Men often use their dominant behaviour against women as a form of sexual abuse. It is always said that women should live in four walls. But it has been never taught to males that women are also equal to them and they should respect them. When women say “NO” then it means no.

Societal Factors:

Societal factors may include poverty and the social environment. The social environment is also a very important aspect to consider. Because the community believe in male power to sex may be hard-core this will definitely affect the possibility of rape.

Why the second abuse and blame the victim?

Rape is a stigma, especially in strong cultural norms and practices. Therefore, a former virgin rape victim can be considered “Corrupted” by the community. The victim can be troubled, rejected by family and friends, denied marriage, divorced, or murdered. This is something that we can call secondary abuse. Second abuse may be defined as re-victimization of the victim of rape or sexual assault by unheard-of responses from individuals and communities. Criticizing the rape victim, in this case, maybe to blame that it is her fault. Society can criticise the victim by referring to such words as flirting, wearing provoked clothing or going out unprotected at night. And all these may be the reason for the attack.  Culprits use “to blame the victim” as a way to protect themselves psychologically from the rape scene.

Effects of rape on the victim:

It includes physical effects and psychological effects. The natural and long-term concerns of rape include concerns about mental health.

  • Physical effects: Acute consequences: May involve visible damage or bleeding, or both, inside and outside the genital area. Strokes can also be present on other body parts such as the breasts and thighs inside the forced force.

 Delayed consequences: Both “forced” rape and “day-to-day rape” may have other physical consequences such as:

1. A traumatic experience.

2. Urinary tract infections.

            3. Unwanted pregnancies.

4. STDs such as HIV, genital warts, syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia.

  • Psychological effects: The psychological effects of sexual harassment among rape survivors have been studied extensively. The response to rape survivors’ response is complex and varied. While some survivors have severe symptoms or chronic depression and others do not. The difference in outcomes is elucidated by the quality of the survivors, the environmental status, the kind of brutality committed and the following damage, access to social support.

While some people can tolerate the negative effects of sexual assault but for some women, sexual harassment is the most traumatic experience they will ever face. In a study, it has been shown that many participants found a link between a history of sexual abuse and a lifelong diagnosis of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), sleep disturbances and suicide attempts, but not schizophrenia or somatoform disorders. Rape history has strengthened relationships between a history of sexual harassment and depression, eating disorders, and PTSD. In addition to anxiety and depression, the psychological effects of sexual assault often include intense feelings of shame and guilt. These feelings are exacerbated by a lack of support from family, friends or the authorities. Following feelings of sexual harassment of confusion and defeat, improper assessment of symptoms and emotions, avoiding and seeing negative responses from others are some of the cognitive factors that play a major role in the onset, severity, and outcomes of PTSD. The risk of PTSD increases when a rape survivor believes that others have failed to respond properly and support.

Rape Trauma Syndrome:

Although everyone who has ever been raped is different, many will have one thing in common: Rape Trauma Syndrome. Rape Trauma Syndrome is a collection of emotional responses to the intense depression that occurs and the fear of death experienced by a victim during brutality. RTS can be categorized into three stages.

  1. The Critical Phase (Firstly) it occurs immediately after the attack and lasts from a few days to a few weeks. During sexual abuse a survivor often experiences intense fear of death and isolation. These are natural responses. Disability due to fear does not mean that the survivor has given permission or wished to be attacked. Even if the victim / survivor decide to be more physically resilient, this does not mean that he or she wanted it to happen or to give consent. Soon after the attack the survivor is in a critical condition and experiences a wide range of emotional reactions classified as ‘Explicit’, such as trembling, crying or screaming; or ‘Controlled’, such as external impact is humble and downgraded.

Studies show that intense anxiety and fear are major responses following a rape that develops about three weeks after the rape but may last for more than a year. Persistent fear may be associated with reminders of an attack (e.g., legal action or medical tests, having men, or being in a place reminding someone of an attack). Fear of future attacks, fear of getting HIV / STI and/or pregnancy are common. A survivor who had previously encountered the land as a safe harbour now believes that the land is unreliable and unsafe leading to a ban on social activities, including employment and community involvement. For some women, especially those from discriminated communities, sexual harassment can confirm their perceptions as despised (“deceptive abuse”), and that the world is unsafe.

B. The second category is ‘External Correction’ in which the rape survivor focuses less on the attack usually with a higher level of rejection and engages in normal daily routine.

 C. The last section is ‘Long Term Reorganization’ at a time when the survivor incorporates the incident into their own perspective and decides his/her feelings about the attacker. The reorganization phase can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years after the attack.[3]


Survivors of sexual assault experience many psychological and complex psychological consequences that lead to the use of advanced health care. A literature review shows that sexual harassment is associated with several psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia and attempt to suicide. Rape Survivors face a variety of adverse effects of sexual harassment; there is no standard list of “symbols” to display. And these things are not easy for them because they affect not only their physical and mental health but also affect their relationships between family, friends, colleagues, and so on. It is needed to determine management based on evidence of sexual assault survivors to address long-term mental health consequences.

There is willful misconduct in the case of rape, a crime that is very hard for the victim to forget. Sexual assault is effective in intimidating, dominating, and humiliating its victims. Therefore, it may be far more serious than a fatal disease so it should be eradicated. The rules must be for women to feel free to go to knock on the court’s door without fear of embarrassment or being made guilty of being raped. Only then we can create a society where every woman goes out without fear of feeling embarrassed and can continue their life full of respect and dignity.



[1] (2010) 9 SCC 747                                           



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