What is Emotional Rape?
According to Michael Fox, Ph.D., emotional rape is similar in many ways to physical rape, particularly date rape. Date rape involves the sexual use of someone's body without consent which amounts to theft of the person's physical sensorium. In a like manner, emotional rape is the theft of someone's higher emotions, such as love, without consent. However, in the case of emotional rape the lack of consent is contained in the fact that the individual is being lied to by the perpetrator.
Emotional rape can happen to both men and women. Both forms of rape can be very devastating and require specialized programs for recovery.
Obstacles to Recovery
Several major obstacles are encountered in recovery from emotional rape that do not exist when considering physical rape. The first is that the victim is aware that something bad happened, but, due to lack of knowledge doesn't know what or why. Also, as in date rape, the victims often feel that they will never be able to love or trust anyone again.
Other obstacles to recovery, again similar to date rape, are the re-victimization of the victim by friends, family, and society ("you were stupid", "how could you let this happen", "...told you they were bad news", "you were naive", etc.) and the subsequent tendencies toward self-blame and silence about what happened.
Characteristics of Emotional Rapists
Without exception, victims describe two predominant characteristics of their rapists:
1. They are charismatic, attractive personalities, likely to be widely admired.
2) They can completely conceal their true, manipulative, power-seeking natures.
These two observations draw highlight one of the central features of Emotional Rape: it can happen to anyone.
The widely varying backgrounds and personalities of those who have become victims of emotional rapists demonstrate the danger in thinking that "It could never happen to me."
It is sometimes difficult to believe that no moral responsibility rests with the victim - because he or she was weak, naive, or otherwise "to blame" - but that it lies with the rapist, whose ability to conceal his or her true self and to present a false self with the intent of preying on others, is so practiced, so convincing, that almost anyone could be deceived.
What Makes an Emotional Rapist?
See psychopathy, narcissistic personality disorder, characteropathy, ponerology.
It is no exaggeration to describe emotional rape as the most underrated trauma of our age; the effects are powerful and potentially destructive. Victims are forced to cope with a tangle of conflicting emotions, experiencing all the traumatic after effects of both rape and loss. This confused pattern of emotional responses is very similar to that experienced by victims of sexual rape. It's a pattern commonly identified as post-traumatic rape syndrome, although victims of emotional rape will be unaware that this is what is happening to them.
While these confused emotions are entangled and difficult to separate and/or categorize, it is possible to identify certain generalized feelings which characterize the emotional aftermath. Principally, these are:
- Feeling 'Had' or 'Used'
- Loneliness and Despondency/Depression
- Rage and Obsession
- Inability to Love or Trust
- Loss of Self-Esteem
- Erratic Behavior
- Hidden and Delayed Reactions
- Fear and Anxiety
Accessed Jan, 23, 2011 from http://enpsychopedia.org/index.php/Emotional_Rape