Rape is the most underreported crime in America. Significant changes to improve the treatment of sexual assault victims have occurred in the last two decades. The impact of reforms, led by the women's movement, can be seen in the legal, medical, mental health, and victim services arenas. During the 1970's, the first rape crisis center was established. The treatment of victims in the criminal justice system was questioned, and hundreds of laws were passed to protect rape victims in the courts. Medical protocols have been developed and widely accepted. The mental health impact of rape is now well documented in the literature, and the practices of mental health professionals have improved. Although the treatment of rape victims today is vastly different from two decades ago, many victims still do not report the crime, and they do not receive the assistance and treatment they need.
Learning objectives include:
- The definitions of rape and sexual assault.
- The major ways that rape incidence and prevalence are measured and the implications of these findings.
- Scope and key characteristics of rape cases.
- The mental and physical health consequences of rape and how these consequences affect for reporting.
- Comprehensive approach to responding to rape victims.
- Roles and responsibilities of the criminal or juvenile justice system and other professionals in protecting the rights of rape victims and dealing with rape cases.
- The management of sex offenders in the community.
- Recent statutory changes and areas of protection that still need to be strengthened.
- Promising practices that address sexual assault and rape victims' needs.