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Rape and the Family

  • By: Sharon M. Wasco, Ashley N. Nolan & Amy R. Stanley
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Rape is the most extreme act of sexual violence, involving sexual penetration by threat or use of force, with dire consequences on victims’ physical and mental health. As victims are more likely to know their assailants than not, rape is often experienced as a betrayal of trust and can thus disrupt a victim's relationships with even the closest friends and family members. An extensive literature on sexual violence has documented detrimental effects of rape on victims, as well as parallel negative reactions—known as secondary traumatic stress—on family members to whom the victim discloses the experience of rape. For these reasons, practitioners hoping to facilitate recovery from rape may need to understand rape as a family crisis and the family system as the context for ...

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