What Are The Psychological and Physical Effects of Rape?

The psychological and physical effects of rape are complex and long-lasting. Dealing with the aftermath following the attack can be just as painful as the attack itself.

What Are Some Common Physical Effects of Rape?

Any sort of forced sexual activity, particularly the act of rape, can lead to serious physical trauma. Some of these physical injuries and illnesses show up immediately after the assault and go away shortly thereafter including:

  • Bruises

  • Lacerations

  • Broken bones

  • Sprains or dislocated bones

  • Soreness

  • Vaginal or anal bleeding or injury

However, some injuries and conditions will last much longer and are much more significant. In fact, some victims may not even be aware of all the effects until weeks or months later. Two of the most traumatic physical effects of rape include:

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

STIs are bacterial or viral infections passed through sexual contact. The perpetrator may be unlikely to wear protection so rape victims face a significant risk for contracting an STI. If you agree to a sexual assault forensic exam after the rape, some STIs will show up right away. However, some STIs will not show up until much later. Because of this, rape victims will need to seek additional testing. HIV, in particular, is a virus that takes weeks to show up on STI tests.


The lack of protection used during a sexual assault or rape can result in pregnancy. Pregnancy can make it almost impossible for the victim to move forward from what happened. Rape victims may consider abortion or adoption if they decide it is too painful to keep the baby.

What Are Some Common Psychological and Emotional Effects of Rape?

The physical trauma of rape is extremely difficult and painful to endure. However, the psychological effects can be much longer-lasting and have more adverse effects than the physical. Many rape victims experience:

  • Depression: Rape victims often experience sadness and hopelessness for a long time after the incident. Depression can impact every area of the victim’s life and make it difficult for her to eat, sleep, go to work or school, and engage with friends and family. This can make recovering from the attack even more difficult.

  • Sleep disorders: In many cases, rape victims have difficulty sleeping, staying asleep, or waking up after a rape.

  • Substance abuse: Many rape victims turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with the rape and its effects. Without treatment, this substance abuse can become a lifelong struggle and lead to severe physical, financial, and emotional problems.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: One of the most common psychological ailments that occurs after a rape is post-traumatic stress-disorder. When something traumatic like a rape occurs, many victims will replay it over and over again in their minds and relive it on a regular basis. As a result, they may experience severe anxiety, hyper-arousal, and difficulty sleeping.

  • Eating Disorders: Victims might develop an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder to regain control over their life or to put their focus on something other than the attack.

  • Self-Harm: Rape victims might also harm themselves after a rape.

Can I Recover Compensation for the Physical and Emotional Effects of My Rape?

Learning to cope with such a devastating trauma can feel impossible. If you have experienced psychological and physical trauma because of a rape, the last thing on your mind may be recovering compensation.

But with the medical and counseling bills piling up, you may be worried about financial stability for you and your family. Fortunately, there are ways for rape victims to seek justice and recover some damages at the same time. Filing suit against your attacker in civil court may be difficult, but it may be just what you need to move forward.

Our team will work with you to hold your attacker liable. We will determine exactly who might be liable (we might be able to hold your attacker and any third parties, such as a bar, that had anything to do with your attack liable) and then work to gather evidence to file a strong suit against any liable parties. We will defend you against any accusations that you consented or that you caused the attack to occur. We will also ensure any settlement offers cover everything the attack took from you.

The attorneys at Edwards Pottinger LLC have successfully won cases for victims of sexual violence all across the nation and can fight for your rights as well. With our knowledge and experience, we will handle all the aspects of your sexual violence case so that you can focus on your physical and mental health.

For more information on how we can assist you, call 954-524-2820.