In 1973, the NCRB first published data on rape: 2,919 rape cases were registered at police stations across India that year. By 2010 the figure grew to 20,262. In 2020, the total number of rape cases reported in India has amounted to over 28 thousand.
This figure just not depicts the rate of this heinous crime happening around us but also the horror that is being created for women around us who are already battling a patriarchal society. Nevertheless, these are just the number of cases that are present on the record. Imagine the number of such cases that are not being informed or registered.
The news and facts related to such crimes create so much fear in the minds of female fraternity just by mere listening or reading. Then, what will be the effect of such a crime on the victim herself in every facet, whether physical, mental, psychological, or social?
Scenario of Rape Victims Just After the Crime
When such an unfortunate incident happens with a female or even a male, informing their kin about it and reporting the crime to the police is itself the most traumatic experience.
Especially in rural or suburban areas where people try to hide such crime and solve the matter amongst themselves asking the victim to compromise for the shake of his/her family’s reputation or the accused’s social image.
And it does not get over there, if the victim and her family do not compromise and are firm on their stance of reporting the crime then in such cases they are blackmailed to all extents and subjected to the fear of losing their jobs, lives, and everything possible to scare them.
Such kinds of incidents are often termed as secondary victimization and the victim’s family or close ones who suffer along with them as a secondary victim. This is just a glance in the cases where the accused is a known person or holds a significant position in society.
In other circumstances, where the accused is unknown to the victim or family, even in such cases its extremely difficult to report the crime to the police.
The many myths surrounding sexual violence only add to a victim’s anxiety and often prevent them from sharing their experience. They fear they will be blamed or that people will not believe them. They often feel doubtful about what has happened and question whether they in fact consented or not.
The result is that many survivors do not report the assault to the police and do not seek the medical attention they need.
Police personals are cooperative in nature and they are always ready to provide all kind of assistance to the victim but sometimes the type of questioning and narration of the crime that they try to seek out of the victim and her family is very inappropriate and might result in scratching the wounds of the victim.
It is extremely painful and toxic for the victim to narrate such violent crime time and again especially in such a state of mind. Also, the IO tries to keep on questioning the victims with every type of possible question so that he/she leaves no stone unturned in the process of solving the crime.
But, this makes the victim revisit the horrendous incident and the accused’s identity leading to feel the miserable act once again.
Further, the medical examination of the victim brings on some more ridiculous experiences to go through. The tests that they go through make them realize the extent of physical harm they have gone through.
Unfortunately, we have heard of many cases wherein the victim is again subjected to sexual assaults at such places of medical examination and even in police stations too. This happens mostly with the victims who are badly injured or are unconscious.
These are some of the harsh realities making the life of a rape victim even more miserable. Although new laws and protocols have been brought into the administration ensuring the privacy and the safety of the victim.
Grimness of Trial Period
Rape in itself is a horrible experience someone can ever go through. But fighting for justice and standing strong at the times of trial when you are continuously asked to remember the incident and the accused while testimonies, cross-questioning, re-examinations in front of some known and some unknown people is one of the most unpleasant experiences that the victim had to go through.
The physical and psychological trauma is relieved by her. The defense lawyers are sometimes very brutal while questioning the victim that results in mental and emotional breakdowns while trials.
Not all humans are the same and bear the same strength to fight the odds. However, not just the victim but her/his family has to suffer all this grim situation along with them, making the victim feel guilty for something she/he is not even responsible for.
This kind of mental pressure often leads to suicides by some victims. Although, the court of law is considerate enough to keep a check on the questions asked from the victim in order to maintain her/his integrity and privacy. But, then the level of grimness for the victim and their family could not be diminished until and unless justice is served to them.
After Affects of Trial
People exposed to sexual violence often feel that their lives have changed forever and that they will never come to terms with the trauma they have suffered. They believe they will never again be free to trust other people, especially those who resemble the person who violated them.
Psychological symptoms are scary for both survivors and the people they are close to. Survivors often feel anxious, confused, and struggle to concentrate. They may feel extreme anger and a sustained need to take revenge; feelings of sadness, helplessness, lack of confidence, and a loss of hope in the future.
They may feel suicidal, believing that nothing good will ever happen again and have nightmares, feel shocked, guilty, afraid, ashamed, depressed, and/or afraid of being touched. Socially, victims often cut themselves off.
Even in the 21st century some part of society still carries that ugly and archaic mindset where they consider victims as impure and often they face a lot of discriminatory behavior from the members of society.
People with prejudiced mindsets do not want to marry rape victims. In some extreme cases where the girls get pregnant, it is even more miserable for her to go through the experience of aborting the fetus. This might lead to complications for her with respect to physical and mental wellbeing.
Professionally too, it is observed that either they discontinue their studies/jobs or are often subjected to some sort of discrimination or harassment at their workplace.
Apart from facing and fighting all these external catalysts for Post-traumatic stress they continuously are also fighting from their internal depressive phase, lack of motivation and will to live as freely and respectfully as they used to do.
Ergo, no matter how empathetic one is we literally cannot replicate the extremity of a victim’s dejected state of life after a traumatic mishap.
How Can We Help Rape Victims?
The least we could do as a member of society and a society as a whole is that to restrict all kinds of discrimination happening around us on such survivors and help them in living a normal and respectful life.
All kinds of physical and psychological assistance should be provided to them free of cost so that the recovery process is less troublesome and more fulfilling. The Rape Trauma Syndrome is a real thing and needs to be taken care of while the survivor is dealing with it.
Providing them a secure environment and accessible assistance while they are resuming their normal lifestyle is the only way of helping them to recover fast.