Psychiatric Aftermaths

Sexual violence can lead to longer-term emotional and psychological harms. How have these effects been understood? What help has been offered to victims?

We explore the aftermath of sexual violence for victims. How have victims of sexual harms dealt with its psychological aftermaths? Medical professionals have developed different ways of understanding the traumas of sexual violence, including rape trauma syndrome and PTSD. We are interested in geographic variations in the understanding of rape trauma, as well as the way such understandings have changed over time (such as the ‘humoral’ and ‘nerve’ models used in the nineteenth century and before).

The trauma of rape is often unevenly distributed by victim characteristics and offender profiling. What qualifies someone as an expert in diagnosing rape trauma (e.g. psychiatrist, social worker, member of rape crisis centre, police doctors) and how have ‘expert testimonies’ been received in court (viz. hearsay; issues of falsifiability and levels of reliability; their testimony rebounding negatively on victims)? The research will analyse the impact of feminist thought and medical activism on both scientific knowledge and therapeutic services.