THE VICTIMOLOGY OF RAPE IN NIGERIA: EXAMINING VICTIMS’ POST-ASSAULT EXPERIENCES AND ADJUSTMENT PATTERNS
The secondary victimisation suffered by rape victims in socially conservative Nigeria is not only in the hands of their families, friends, and significant others, but also through the agents and process of criminal justice system of the country. Previous research into rape in Nigeria has often neglected the aftermath of forcible rape on the victims and coping mechanisms adopted. Therefore, this present study was designed to redress this imbalance and specifically, investigate the consequences of incidence of rape on the victims. Using qualitative information gathered from in-depth interviews of 23 rape victims and 4 key informants that consisted of medical personnel and counselling psychologists, the study found that the most critical effect of rape on victims are post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, sleep disorders, distrust of others, feeling of personal powerlessness, anxiety and emotional numbness. The adjustment of victims is remarkably impeded by social stigmatisation, lack of support, care and concern from families and friends, ineffective justice system and burden of proof. The victims do not seek for medical attention or counselling advice except when there are physical body injuries sustained from the incidence, which has serious physical and mental health implications. Therefore, a systemic approach to improving knowledge and altering attitudes regarding sexual offenses is needed. Specifically, education needs to focus on a woman’s right to consent and the overall eradication of stereotypical beliefs regarding rape victimisation, victims, and perpetrators.
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