Social stigma as a form of secondary victimization also continues to haunt the rape victims as they move on with their lives after the attack. White & Robinson-Kurpius' (1999) study revealed that men continued to subscribe to the mythology associated with rape that women/victims are culpable for what had happened to them because of the way they are dressed, their behavior, type of work or sexual experience (p.993). These were then used to rationalize or justify or absolve the acts of the aggression.
Victims of sexual assaults experience a range of short and long-term effects such as anxiety and depression (Harris & Valentiner, 2002, p.286). Also associated with the sexual violence various forms and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in majority of the victims. In addition, victims developed problems in interpersonal relationships and social functions (p.286).
Victims of sexual violence develop interpersonal functioning problems especially when their pre-traumatic schema differed from the post-traumatic experience. The victims generally avoid sexual activity primarily because they developed a basic distrust towards other people and a misconception and belief in "random distribution of events." All these, in addition to a general feeling of discomfort in resuming sexual activity contribute to the reluctance of rape victims to resume normal social relationships (Harris & Valentiner, 2002, p.302). Harris & Valentiner (2002) also noted that extreme self-paranoia is a consequence of "beliefs that the world and its inhabitants are harmful and that unfortunate events are distributed in a random pattern."(p.302).
Trust is a factor that is lost and the victims usually perceive other people as untrustworthy and dangerous. Self-blame contributes to reduction of self-esteem and most would perceive themselves as "socially inadequate or unworthy people." (p.302) In Harris & Valentiner's (2002) opinion, "sexual aversion, paranoid self-consciousness, and fear of intimacy" form part of a series of misconceptions that create a vicious cycle that exacerbates the situation. These "negative beliefs may lead to interpersonal behaviors that lead to sexual assault, which in turn reinforces the negative beliefs and interpersonal behaviors that put one at risk for future victimization." (p.302)
Schilling, Aseltine & Gore (2007) examined the social role functioning of young adults who experienced sexual abuse as children. Their study found that depression is prevalent in both male and female young adults attributing this as a consequence of childhood sexual abuse (p.109). The young women who participated in the study were found to have more depressive symptoms in the domains of work, school and intimate relationships (p.109). Women who experienced childhood sexual abuse exhibit "anxious and avoidant attachment styles in adult romantic relationships," greater fear for intimacy, and poor relationship qualities when compared to individuals who were spared from the childhood trauma (p.111).
Some theories could lend explanation to the post-rape behavior of women when it comes to re-establishing social