Secondary victims of rape

Violence Vict. 2012;27(2):246-62. doi: 10.1891/0886-6708.27.2.246.


Rape is often a very traumatic experience, which affects not only the primary victim (PV) but also his/her significant others. Studies on secondary victims of rape are few and have almost exclusively studied male partners of female rape victims. This study examined the impact of rape on 107 secondary victims, including family members, partners, and friends of male and female rape victims. We found that many respondents found it difficult to support the PV and that their relationship with the PV was often affected by the assault. Furthermore, the sample showed significant levels of traumatization, and it was estimated that approximately one quarter of the respondents suffered from posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Degree of traumatization was associated with a more recent assault, higher efforts to support the PV, recurrent thoughts about having been able to prevent the assault, a lack of social support for the respondent, and feeling let down by others. The respondents were generally interested in friend-, family-, and partner-focused interventions, particularly in receiving education about how best to support a rape victim.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rape / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Perception
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Young Adult