Deutsch: Vergewaltigung / Español: Violación / Português: Estupro / Français: Viol / Italiano: Stupro

Rape is defined as forced intercourse upon a woman against her will; forced sexual behavior without a personal knowledge or intercourse by force and violence, by a man of a woman against her will.

In psychology, rape is understood as a traumatic event that can have profound and long-lasting effects on an individual's mental and emotional health. It involves forced or non-consensual sexual intercourse, which is a severe violation of personal autonomy and safety.


The psychological impact of rape is extensive, affecting survivors' mental health, social relationships, and overall quality of life. Victims often experience a range of immediate and long-term psychological consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and various forms of somatic and emotional distress. Rape trauma syndrome, a subtype of PTSD, specifically describes the acute and long-term stages of psychological trauma following a rape.

Psychological responses to rape can vary widely among individuals but often include feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and anger. Survivors may also experience changes in their perceptions of safety and trust in others, significantly impacting their interpersonal relationships and social functioning.

Application Areas

In psychology, understanding and treating the consequences of rape involves several specialized areas, including:

  • Clinical psychology: Treatment of trauma and related disorders resulting from sexual assault.
  • Counseling psychology: Providing emotional and psychological support to help survivors cope with the aftermath of rape.
  • Forensic psychology: Evaluating the psychological effects of rape for legal cases and working with legal professionals to understand the mental health impacts.

Well-Known Examples

Psychological research into rape includes studies on:

  • The efficacy of various therapeutic approaches in treating PTSD and other psychological consequences of sexual assault.
  • The development and validation of assessment tools that measure the psychological impacts of rape, such as the PTSD Checklist and the Impact of Event Scale.

Treatment and Risks

The psychological treatment of rape survivors focuses on addressing the trauma and restoring a sense of safety and control. Therapeutic approaches may include trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and supportive counseling to help survivors rebuild trust and regain empowerment.

There are significant risks if the trauma from rape is not adequately addressed, including chronic PTSD, severe depression, substance abuse, and the potential for further victimization. Psychological interventions are critical in mitigating these risks and facilitating recovery.

Similar Terms

Related terms in psychology include:

  • Sexual assault: A broader term that includes rape but also other forms of non-consensual sexual contact.
  • Victimization: Refers to the process of being subjected to harm, including psychological harm, which encompasses the experience of rape survivors.


In psychology, rape is viewed as a severely traumatic event with wide-ranging psychological consequences. Understanding its impact is essential for providing effective psychological interventions that support the healing and recovery of survivors. The goal is to restore their sense of safety, dignity, and control, while also addressing the complex emotional and psychological challenges they face.


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