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Most victims experience a common series of emotional reactions which we refer to as the "victimization syndrome". 

The process parallels the grief process outlined in Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's On Death and Dying, or rape trauma syndrome described by Ann Burgee in Rape and its Victims. It consists of three basic stages:

IMPACT 1. Crisis Stage (up to 72 hours): Denial--Many times we have heard victims in the emergency room saying, "This can't be happening to me, it must be a dream." One rape victim commented, "I feel like an observer, watching and reliving someone else's experience.

SHOCK 2. Intermediate Stage (24 hours to 6 weeks): A series of different emotions emerge and fade with varying intensity: fear, anger, guilt, frustration, embarrassment; often accompanied by disruptions in sleeping and eating patterns and a change in lifestyle. When asked how she was doing, one victim said, "I don't know. One minute I know the whole thing was my fault. The next minute I know it's his fault. I do know that I'm too afraid to sleep in that apartment again!"

RESOLUTION 3. Reintegration (one week to one year): Victim resumes normal life. As one victim commented, "I have it in perspective now and don't think of it very often any more."

Patterns begin to emerge for different types of victimization. Do not view problems as inevitable, nor a suggestion as a recipe. They should only serve as a helpful guide in problem assessment.

*(from pp. 47-56, BUILDING A SOLUTION. Marjorie Susman and Carol Holt Vittert, National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis (1980).

 

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