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PTSD - Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Rape related PTSD from The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, originally from NCVC


Information about PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) or RTS (rape trauma syndrome) information from the National Center for Victims of Crime.

The four major symptoms of Rape-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma (Rape victims may experience uncontrollable intrusive thoughts about the rape)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Avoidance behaviors (a general tendency to avoid any thoughts, feelings, or cues which could bring up the catastrophic and most traumatizing elements of the rape)
  • Irritability, hostility, rage and anger

Also listed by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as:

"PTSD symptoms in... three clusters:

  • Intrusion (re-experiencing of the trauma, including nightmares, flashbacks, recurrent thoughts)
  • Avoidance (avoiding trauma-related stimuli, social withdrawal, emotional numbing)
  • Hyperarousal (increased emotional arousal, exaggerated startle response, irritability)" (Hensley, 2002)

One helpful coping tactic is to carry a small notebook with you and write down where you parked your car, phone numbers and names (especially emergency contacts).

Sexual Assault against Females from The National Center for PTSD


A summary of the effects of rape.


Recommended treatments from The National Center for PTSD and from the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at MGH:

There are a number of effective medications available to treat the symptoms of PTSD, including antidepressants and some newer anti-anxiety or mood-stabilizing medications. Many individuals with PTSD do well with treatment that includes both psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), including prolonged exposure (PE), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) is effective for many patients with PTSD and involve working closely with a therapist to systematically process the traumatic event, identify and modify negative thoughts that interfere with recovery from the trauma, and learn to face situations or feelings associated with the trauma. In addition, CBT helps individuals learn skills for managing difficult emotions and overcoming difficulties in interpersonal relationships.


Government Resources


What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? from



Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape.


What is PTSD? from NIMH


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.


What is PTSD? from NCPTSD


The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was created within the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1989, in response to a Congressional mandate to address the needs of veterans with military-related PTSD. Its mission was, and remains: To advance the clinical care and social welfare of America's veterans through research, education, and training in the science, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD and stress-related disorders. This website is provided as an educational resource concerning PTSD and other enduring consequences of traumatic stress.
The above site is not designed for rape victims but if you enter the term rape in the search engine it has articles relating to rape trauma.

PTSD in women and assault victims from


"The most widely studied psychological consequence of sexual assault is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)."


Related links: Flashbacks, Memory and PTSD, PTSD and communication, Communication with rape victims

For more information on ptsd and rape trauma syndrome click here.


Hensley, L. (2002). Treatment for Survivors of Rape: Issues and Interventions. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, Vol. 24.

Seritan, A., (2005). Hysteria and the Mind-Brain Connection. Psychiatric Times, 52 (13), 41-42.

Schnurr PP. Friedman MJ. Bernardy NC. (2002). Research on posttraumatic stress disorder: epidemiology, pathophysiology, and assessment. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 58(8):877-89.

Norman, Judith. (2000). CONSTRUCTIVE NARRATIVE IN ARRESTING THE IMPACT OF POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER. By: Clinical Social Work Journal. 28 (3). p303-319, 17p. link

Does writing reduce posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms? Deters, Pamela B.; Range, Lillian M.; Violence and Victims, Vol 18(5), Oct 2003. pp. 569-580. link

Felmingham, Kim L.; Bryant, Richard A.; Gordon, . (2003). Evian Processing angry and neutral faces in post-traumatic stress disorder: An event-related potentials study. Neuroreport: For Rapid Communication of Neuroscience Research. 14(5). pp. 777-780. link

Use of drawing technique to encourage verbalization in adult survivor of sexual abuse. Lev-Wiesel, Rachel; Arts in Psychotherapy, Vol 25(4), 1998. pp. 257-262. link

CORK Bibliography: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)




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