The Effect of Rape during Pregnancy

In criminal law, the word rape refers to an assault by and to a person that involves sexual intercourse with an unwilling person or literally without the person's consent (Patricia, 2005). Outside law, rape as a term is in use often interchangeably with the term sexual assault because they are closely related. Rape has major effects on the victim regardless of the number of times a victim goes through the horrific encounter (Myriam, 2004). This paper reviews effects of continuous rape on a woman who undergoes the horrific act severally at during her pregnancy state.

A pregnant woman literally is delicate to handle, therefore, any event of rape is a disaster on her condition. Continuous rape on such a woman spells doom because it results to termination of pregnancy or development of major complications that risk her life (Luster, 2000). There are serious side effects that result from continuous rape. Psychological effect is one of the major outcomes of rape on any woman whether in pregnancy condition or not (McCauley, 1997). Psychologists associate rape with psychological effect naming it as the immediate side effect that an individual undergoes after experiencing a rape case. The side effect involves the development of a post-traumatic stress disorder (Luster, 2000).

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The psychologists also as term it as, rape trauma syndrome. The syndrome is directly a psychosomatic response to a case of rape that engages some feelings of shame as well as shock on the victim. The pregnant woman undergoing such trauma has a hard time trying to come into terms with the horrific incident as it happened (McCauley, 1997). When it happens severally, the trauma becomes even worse because the victim develops fear of loosing the unborn. The emotional impact on the victim is very strong that it creates an anxiety disorder (Myriam, 2004). There is fear of what happens to the infant she is carrying and it develops negative emotions and a feeling of despair on carrying the child anymore. A number of characteristics common to this kind of woman include recurring nightmares (Luster, 2000). The victim undergoes forms of flashbacks after the continued rape incidents thus creating social withdrawal, depression, nervousness, and emotional numbness (Jewkes, 2001).

A pregnant woman who undergoes continued rape also undergoes side effects that are more psychological. She feels as if she has not done enough to protect her unborn baby. This is a feeling of self-blame that the victim undergoes during her entire pregnancy period. Self-blame is a common short- and long-term effect emanating from rape cases especially on a pregnant woman. The character creates a situation of avoidance coping skill (Patricia, 2005). In turn, this inhibits a complete healing process for the woman therefore developing complications that results in long-term effects of her pregnancy as well as complications when giving birth. Two broad types of self-blame exist in such victims including behavioral and character logical self-blame (Jewkes, 2001). A pregnant woman usually faces behavioral self-blame after continuous rape cases. She feels as if she should have done something to avoid the rape cases and protect he unborn therefore developing a feeling of self-fault (Myriam, 2004).

There is a risk of sexually transmitting diseases after continued rape. The pregnant woman who undergoes continuous rape has a higher chance of transmitting diseases for instance AIDS (McCauley, 1997). The diseases are a threat to her pregnancy because they compromise the pregnancy development. Disease for instance AIDS pose develops side effects on her pregnancy. The child also transmits the disease and both risk death in the event of ignorance on handling the early symptoms of the disease (Luster, 2000). Other infections for instance gonorrhea and syphilis pose as a risk in childbirth. They have side effects on the child when giving birth. The woman transmits the disease to the child through the contact within the cervix. A good example is the complications developed on the face of children given birth with the mother having sexual related complications (Jewkes, 2001).

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There is a more serious side effect of a rape experience. When a pregnant woman undergoes rape cases, she has a severe trauma that develops a suicidal behavior. This common case is in women who undergo desperation following cases of rape (Luster, 2000). They develop a feeling of regret and feel unwanted in life. It is even worse if the pregnancy she holds was because of rape (Patricia, 2005). The woman feels as if she has a spell and feels in contrast to the surrounding environment (Myriam, 2004). She feels as if everything is against her and chances of suicidal attempts are excessively high. Many studies globally find adolescent suicide cases as holding more that half the number resulting from rape victims (McCauley, 1997).

Continuous rape on a pregnant woman poses risks of miscarriage. This is because of the physical side effects that the woman undergoes resulting from the physical assault. A pregnant woman undergoes physical injuries that complicate the development of the fetus in her womb (Luster, 2000). In this case, miscarriage is the most possible complication during her pregnancy. Miscarriage is usually common from rape cases all over the globe. 15-20% of miscarriages pregnancies globally are reported as caused by rape cases (Patricia, 2005). When this case happens severally, they pose as a great threat of infertility in a woman (Myriam, 2004).

This is a long-term side effect but very important to note for any woman for the sake of her future. Medics report that women who experience two or more miscarriages reduce their chances of normal pregnancy by 65% in future (McCauley, 1997). Continuous rape on a pregnant woman therefore risks damages on her womb and other side effects that spell doom on her future anticipations of conceiving. They are at a higher risk of experiencing consecutive miscarriages later in life following complications developed in the initial termination of pregnancy (McCauley, 1997).

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It is apparent that a woman who undergoes continuous rape cannot be able to hide signs of rape to a professional medic. The signs are very apparent and reveal easily in victims of rape. For one-third of rape victims, they cannot overcome the rape trauma. They are sensitive even to the slightest suggestions of a rape case (Myriam, 2004). When visiting a medic, the victims feel shame to undergo tests and are resilient to any body contact. They have a negative attitude even to the medics and shows signs of fear uncommon with other pregnant women (Jewkes, 2001). With a close look, it might be apparent to the medic that a woman is probably a rape victim from the way she behaves. There are also damages observable in a woman who has undergone rape (Patricia, 2005).

The medic conducting the examination can observe severe physical damages to the pregnant woman making it hard for the woman to deny a rape case. Survivors feel humiliated, ashamed, confused, dirty, or at fault for the rape assault (Luster, 2000). Therefore, they cannot hide the humiliation in them to the medics when undergoing an examination. Such a woman is even in dire need of counseling and feels in need of someone to talk to especially a stranger (McCauley, 1997). The doctor is usually the closest person to such a woman who undergoes rape severally. From the pressures within and questions asked by the doctor, a woman who undergoes rape can easily tell the whole thing to the doctor and hiding it is very difficult on the side of the victim (Myriam, 2004).

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