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Effects of Sexual Assault

For the Survivor

Just as every situation is different, every survivor is unique and may have different reactions to sexual assault.  Listed below are some of the most widely reported effects. 

Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) – this theory of the psychological stages rape victims often experience was developed by Ann Wolbert and Lynda Lytle Holmstrom in 1974 (“Rape Trauma Syndrome”, American Journal of Psychiatry, 131:981-986)

Acute Stage: The first stage of RTS takes place during the first days and weeks after the trauma occurs.  The survivor may show some of the following: numbness, lack of alertness, bewilderment, terror, paralyzing anxiety, sleep problems, gastro-intestinal issues. 

Outward Adjustment Stage: This stage can take place from months to years after the trauma.  During this stage the victim is outwardly acting as if everything is okay.  It is characterized by denial. 

Re-normalization Stage: This stage could also take place anytime between months and years after the trauma.  The individual is no longer in denial.  They may feel empowered, and safer.  However, there is still the possibility of long-term depression, anger, and other negative, self-destructive emotions and actions.

The effects of sexual assault do not just disappear.  Many survivors will deal with the effects of this crime for their entire life.

For the Perpetrator

Prison.  Perpetrators who are found guilty of gross sexual imposition in North Dakota can be convicted of up to a class AA felony and be sentenced to up to life imprisonment and no less than five years imprisonment

Expulsion/Suspension. Regardless of whether or not criminal charges are pressed against a perpetrator, they can be expelled or suspended from North Dakota State University if found responsible of sexual assault or sexual misconduct 

Isolation.  If a perpetrator has committed a crime of sexual violence, this can burn bridges between friends and family, thus isolating the perpetrator 

Employment.  Criminal convictions and/or college suspensions or expulsions may inhibit job prospects and/or post-graduate opportunities for professional education programs


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Site Manager: Mary Asheim
Published by: Office of Student Life

Last Updated: Monday, December 10, 2012 9:18:51 AM
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