The Phenomenon Rape

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Posttraumatic Stress

Posttraumatic stress disorder was understood in the DSM-III as a syndrome caused by exposure to extreme stressors occurring outside the usual boundaries of everyday life. These events were likely to trigger noticeable distress in nearly all individuals. The initial studies concerning PTSD were undertaken with soldiers in war situations. As research developed, this definition was considered inadequate. The DSM-IV definition was therefore broadened to include the subjective perception of threat. To qualify as traumatised, an individual no longer should be a direct victim of trauma. One may also qualify because of being confronted with a situation that involves threat to the physical integrity of one’s self or others and experience the emotions of fear, horror, or helplessness. The DSM-IV has omitted the criteria that a traumatic stressor has to be “an event that is outside the range of usual human experience” (American Psychiatric Association, 1987:250) because it is unclear as to what constitutes a ‘usual’ human experience.

Intrusive symptoms

The memory of the traumatic event continues to replay without any indication of subsiding. This replaying may take the form of nightmares, flashbacks and unsolicited thoughts. According to Friedman (2011:12) this intrusive thoughts are “sensory memories of short duration”. They have the quality of being in the immediate present and therefore lacks context. “Ruminative thoughts in depression”, on the other hand, are evaluative and longer lasting. Victims who experience flashbacks fell as if she/she is vividly reliving the traumatic event (see Okawa & Hauss 2007:41). Nightmares may result in the victim being too afraid to sleep which has a negative impact upon her/his health. Nightmares are one of the primary indicators that is recognised for PTSD (see Roberts & Roberts 2005:449)

Rape Trauma Syndrome

Men and woman are anatomically different but the difference also goes further. Gray (2008:38) notes that, due to advances in neuroscientific research, scientists have discovered significant differences between the male and female brains that explain the visible behavioural differences. These differences between men and women are also noticeable with regard to trauma reactions. Kimerling et al. (2007:210) note that while men are more prone to experience traumatic life events, women are more likely to develop PTSD. The chance of women developing PTSD is approximately twice that of males. Handa and McGivern (2000:196-204) offer supporting evidence in terms of gender differences with regard to stress responses. This evidence includes differences in adrenal function, neuroendocrine function and behavioural responses to stress. Handa and McGivern (2000:203) conclude that “current research studying the interrelationships among sex, stress, and pathophysiology strongly implicates a role for gonadal hormones in predicting gender differences related to disease or psychopathology”. These factors have huge implications with regard to treatment. Kimerling et al. (2007:222) believe that the issue of gender is a vital factor when treating PTSD and understanding its causes, progression and symptoms.

The acute phase

The acute phase refers to the first few hours and weeks subsequent to the rape and is characterised by anxiety and fearfulness. “[T]he fear can become so salient and demanding that it overpowers the lives of victims” (Allison et al. 1993:153). Other general stress response symptoms are also present. The emotional responses displayed by the victim may be witnessed in either of the following two ways, depending on the personality of the victim and the nature of the rape. Firstly, the victim is openly emotional. She may appear agitated or hysterical and may suffer anxiety attacks. Secondly, the victim may have a ‘controlled’ response where strong feelings are masked behind a composed dementia. In the first several weeks following a rape, acute somatic reactions such as physical trauma, sleep and appetite disturbance, gastro-intestinal irritability and 61 genito-urinary disturbance may occur (cf. Peterson, Prout & Schwarz 1991:52). Emotional responses at this stage may include humiliation, embarrassment, anger, a desire for revenge. According to Leslie (2003:164), the primary feelings following a rape are those of disbelief, numbness, disgust and betrayal. Because rape is a traumatic event, the victim is more likely to suffer the recognised trauma reactions of flashbacks, nightmares, hyper-vigilance and an elevated startle response in the acute phase.

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Data analysis: Health practitioners

The term ‘health practitioners’ refers to counsellors, social workers and psychologists who work within a specialised environment. Approximately 100 questionnaires were electronically sent to rape centres, relevant organisations and individual psychologists and counsellors and only 22 were returned (see Appendix 5.2). The motivation for sending questionnaires to these individuals is was to determine their views and treatment approaches with regard to rape victims. This was undertaken in order to obtain an understanding of whether or not there was a difference in approach to rape between the genders. I was also interested in the health practitioners’ perception of males counselling rape victims in addition to the role of the pastoral counsellor with regard to women that have been raped. Table 4.2 indicates the percentage of male and female respondents, in addition to an average.

Postmodern influence

Contemporary Christianity is influenced by both postmodernity and post-conservative evangelicalism and seeks to be relevant by re-examining the methodology of conservative evangelicalism in the light of the postmodern society. Postmodernity is difficult to describe. According to Smith (2002), “there is no such thing as a definition of the postmodern. It is a mood rather than a strict discipline”. Nevertheless, FajardoAcosta (2010) suggests the following description: 94 A cultural and intellectual trend of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries characterized by emphasis on the ideas of the decenteredness of meaning, the value and autonomy of the local and the particular, the infinite possibilities of the human existence, and the coexistence, in a kind of collage or pastiche, of different cultures, perspectives, time periods, and ways of thinking. Postmodernism claims to address the sense of despair and fragmentation of modernism through its efforts at reconfiguring the broken pieces of the modern world into a multiplicity of new social, political, and cultural arrangements.

Table of Contents :

  • Chapter 1 Spousal Rape – a challenge for pastoral
    • counselling
    • 1.1 Problem statement
    • 1.2 Research gap
    • 1.3 Aims and objectives
    • 1.4 Methodology
      • 1.4.1 Ontology
      • 1.4.2 Epistemology
      • 1.4.3 Social location
      • 1.4.4 Data collection
      • 1.4.5 Data analysis
    • 1.5 Ethical considerations
    • 1.5.1 Ethical clearance
    • 1.5.2 Personal interests
    • 1.6 Research outline
  • Chapter 2 The Phenomenon Rape
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 Theories concerning rape
    • 2.3 Acquaintance rape
    • 2.4 Spousal rape
    • 2.5 Summary
  • Chapter 3 The Phenomenon Traumatic Stress
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 Stress
      • 3.2.1 Introduction
      • 3.2.2 Traumatic stress
      • 3.2.3 Posttraumatic stress
    • 3.3 Rape trauma syndrome
    • 3.4 Summary
  • Chapter 4 Questionnaires and Interviews
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.2 Data analysis: pastoral counsellors
    • 4.3 Data analysis: health practitioners
    • 4.4 Interviews
      • 4.4.1 Interview
      • 4.4.2 Interview
      • 4.4.3 Interview
      • 4.4.4 Interpretation
    • 4.5 Summary
  • Chapter 5. The Relevance of Spirituality
    • 5.1 Introduction
    • 5.2 Evangelical spirituality
    • 5.2.1 Introduction
    • 5.2.2 Feminist evangelicalism
    • 5.2.3 Conservative evangelicalism
    • 5.2.3.1 Introduction
    • 5.2.3.2 Principles
      • 5.2.3.3 Conservative evangelical spirituality
      • 5.2.3.3.1 Introduction
      • 5.2.3.3.2 The role of the Bible
      • 5.2.3.3.3 Spiritual gifts
      • 5.2.3.3.4 Worship and preaching
      • 5.2.3.3.5 Holy living
      • 5.2.3.3.6 Evangelism
      • 5.2.3.3.7 Family and society
    • 5.3 Spirituality and spousal rape
    • 5.3.1 Practical theology, pastoral counselling and Biblical
    • theology
    • 5.3.2 Rape in Scripture
    • 5.3.2.1 Introduction
    • 5.3.2.2 The Old Testament
    • 5.3.2.3 The New Testament
    • 5.3.2.4 Interaction with others
    • 5.3.3 Theologians’ perspectives on rape – past and present
    • 5.3.4 A doctrinal perspective
    • 5.3.4.1 Introduction
    • 5.3.4.2 Image of God
    • 5.3.4.3 Sin and forgiveness
    • 5.3.5 Patriarchy
    • 5.3.6 Summary
  • Chapter 6 A counselling model
    • 6.1 Introduction
    • 6.2 The pastoral counsellor
    • 6.3 An integrative counselling model
    • 6.3.1 Introduction
    • 6.3.2 Crisis intervention
    • 6.3.3 Relational-focused interventions
  • Chapter 7 Transformation and healing
    • 7.1 Introduction
    • 7.2 Spirituality in integrative pastoral counselling
    • 7.3 Overcoming suffering
    • 7.3.1 Introduction
    • 7.3.2 Imitating Jesus
    • 7.4 Overcoming the abuse of power
    • 7.5 Spiritual healing
    • Appendix
    • Appendix 1.2 Consent form for participants
    • Appendix 2.1 The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment
    • Bill
    • Appendix 3.1 DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for Acute Stress
    • Disorder
    • Appendix 3.2 DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for Posttraumatic
    • Stress Disorder
    • Appendix 5.1 Pastoral counsellors questionnaire
    • Appendix 5.2 Health professions questionnaire
    • Appendix 5.3 Appeal for assistance with a PhD research thesis
    • Appendix 5.4 Interview questions
    • Appendix 5.5 Impact of event scale – revised
    • Bibliography

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Spousal rape: An integrative approach to pastoral counselling

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