An 18-year-old undergraduate student presents to the emergency department at 5 am on a Saturday morning reporting that she was the victim of sexual assault while attending a fraternity party the evening before. When you first encounter this patient to take a detailed history, she remains very calm, but has trouble remembering the details of the experience. She reports that she has not used any alcohol or illicit drugs.
The victim’s inability to think clearly and remember things is best explained by which of the following?A. Alcohol use
Rape trauma syndrome is the medical term that refers to the response that survivors have to rape. It is considered to be the natural response of a psychologically well person to the traumatic event. As part of the rape trauma syndrome, victims of sexual assault may appear calm, tearful, or agitated, or they may demonstrate a combination of these emotions. In addition, victims of sexual assault may suffer an involuntary loss of cognition where they cannot think clearly or remember things. The immediate or acute phase of the rape trauma syndrome can last for hours to days. It is associated with a paralysis of the victim’s usual coping mechanisms. The victim’s response may be complete emotional breakdown or well-controlled behavior. The actual reaction of the victims will depend on many factors, including use of force, length of attack or how long they were held against their will, and their relationship to the attacker (stranger versus someone close to them). The victim is usually disorganized immediately after the assault and has both physical and emotional complaints.