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Consider the rape victim


MICHAEL RAY

Consider the rape victim

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People advocating the anti-abortion and pro-life agenda, even in cases of rape, must be made aware of the myriad negative effects awaiting both mother and child.

First, the victim of rape can be exposed to the physical effects of bruising, soreness, broken limbs and bones, bleeding, sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

They can experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts.

The victim can become depressed, and may even be bombarded with suicidal thoughts and attempts.

The victim may be unable to focus on work or study.

The person can develop emotional conditions such as distrust, anger, fear, guilt, shock, numbness, loss of control, disorientation, helplessness and a sense of vulnerability.

The victim can develop a negative outlook and feel “damaged” or unworthy, become involved in drug or alcohol abuse, have difficulty with the menstrual cycle, chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle tension, involuntary shaking, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and sexual dysfunction.

Dr Andrew Solomon, clinical psychologist at Columbia University, New York, in his book Far From The Tree, says that the child suffers no less than the victim from transmitted PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Research shows that maternal stress severely affects embryological development of the foetus, with rape victims usually taking antidepressants to help them cope, which in turn is harmful to the foetus.

Researchers Elisa van Ee and Rolf J. Kieber also identified the following:

• The post-partum period is difficult and traumatic for the child born of rape.

• Such a child usually develops a poor parent-child relationship, especially if the rape experience was violent.

• The capacity of the mother to care for the child is compromised and a loving bond difficult to establish, resulting in abuse and neglect.

• The child feels responsible for father’s action, carrying a sense of guilt, embarrassment and rejection and even retreating into self-isolation.

• The child is prone to face social stigma and be ostracised by other family members and even the wider community.

• The child becomes an object of ridicule, blame and victimisation.

I implore the anti-abortionists and “pro-lifers” to take into consideration the implications before asking another victim of rape to complete a term of pregnancy.

– MICHAEL RAY

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