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Coping with Sexual Assault: A Guide to Resolution, Healing and Recovery

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2000
89 pages
This handbook provides information and resources to assist rape victims in their recovery process; it is printed in large print for those with visual impairments.
This handbook provides valuable information about medical, legal, and emotional issues that must be considered following a sexual assault. The handbook also provides specific information for rape victims with visual impairments. Suggestions are offered for obtaining services under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Sexual assault is defined as a myriad of different acts ranging from invasions of space and privacy to rape. Victim reactions following a rape are explored, such as feelings of numbness and shock and feelings of anger and mistrust. Suggestions are offered for dealing with the feelings that emerge following an attack. Medical concerns following a sexual assault are enumerated and victims are urged to seek immediate medical treatment. Medical issues include concerns about sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and ingestion of “date-rape drugs.” Next, legal concerns and the criminal justice process are examined. The police process is enumerated from the filing of a police report, to the police interview and investigation, through to evidence collection, which includes a rape kit exam. The infrequent use polygraph and voice stress tests with rape victims are reviewed. Next, the court process is explored, beginning with the arraignment. The preliminary hearing, grand jury hearing, the trial, and the sentencing hearing are all described and victims’ rights at each stage are explained. Common victim feelings following a trial are explored. The handbook also discusses other legal and criminal justice concerns for victims of sexual assault, such as accompaniment and support, bond and harassment, HIV tests for perpetrators, plea bargaining, testifying in court, and civil law suits. Victim rights are explored, followed by a discussion of the emotional and psychological impact of sexual assault on victims. Specific long-term concerns are explored, including physical problems, emotional and psychological concerns, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and relationship and sexual problems. Advice is also offered for family and friends of sexual assault victims. Finally, the handbook provides information about where to seek additional support. Glossary

Date Published: December 1, 2000