victimisation, social stigmatisation, rape victims, adjustment patterns, post-assault experiences.


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.


Amaka-Okafor, Vanni (2013) “Nigeria has a Rape Culture Too” Guardian Africa Network January 14, 2013. Online at: Retrieved on 30September, 2013.

Burgress, A.W., & Holmstrom, L. L. (1984). Rape trauma syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 131, 981-986.

Castello, J., Coomer, C., Stillwell, J., and Cate, K.L. (2006).The attribution of responsibility in acquaintance rape involving ecstasy. North American Journal of Psychology, 8, 411-420.

Chiedu, Albinus (2013) “The Rising Wave of Rape” The Punch Newspapers, 4 June 2013, p 26.

CLEEN Foundation (2013) Summary of Findings of 2012 National Crime and Safety Survey. Available at: Retrieved on 28 September, 2013.

Foa, E. B., & Riggs, D. S. (1995). Post-traumatic stress disorder following an assault: Theoretical considerations and empirical findings. Current Directions, 4, 61-65.

Frazier, P. A., & Burnett, J.W. (1994). Immediate coping strategies among rape victims. Journal of Counseling & Development, 72, 633-639.

Frazier, P.A. (1990).Victim attributions and postrape trauma. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 2, 298-304.

Frazier, P.A. (2000).The role of attributions and perceived control in recovery from rape. Journal of Personal and Interpersonal Loss, 5, 203-225.

Frese, B., Moya, M., Megias, J. L. (2004). Social perception of rape: How rape myth acceptance modulates the influence of situational factors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 143-161.

Holahan, C. J., & Moos, R. H. (1990). Life stressors, resistance factors, and improved psychological functioning: An extension of the stress resistance paradigm. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 909-917.

James, R. K., & Gilliland, B. E. (2001). Crisis intervention strategies (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Jimenez, J., and Abreu, J. (2003). Brief report race and sex effects on attitudinal perceptions of acquaintance rape. Journal of Counselling Psychology, 5, 252-256.

Kaltman, S., Krupnick, J., Stockton, P., Hooper, L., Green, B.L. (2005). Psychological impact of types of sexual trauma among college women. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 5, 547-555.

Layman, M.J., Gidycz, C. A, & Lynn, S.J. (1996). Unacknowledged versus acknowledged rape victims: situational factors and post-traumatic stress. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105, 1, 134-131.

Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.

Lee, J., Pomeroy, E.C, and Rheinboldt, K.T. (2005). Attitudes towards rape: A comparison between Asian and Caucasian college students. Violence against Women, 11, 177-196.

Littleton, H. & Radecki Breitkopf, C. (2006). Coping with the experience of rape. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30, 106-116.

Littleton, H. L.,Axsom, D., Radecki Breitkopf, C., & Berenson, A. (2006). Rape acknowledgement and postassault experiences: How acknowledgement status relates to disclosure, coping, worldview, and reactions received from others. Violence and Victims, 21, 761-778.

Lonsway, K.A. and Fitzgerald, L.F. (1994). Rape myths in review. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 133-164.

McGregor, J. (2005). Is it rape? On acquaintance rape and taking women’s consent seriously. Burlington: Ashgate.

McMullin, D., and White, J.W. (2006). Long-term effects of labelling a rape experience. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30, 96-105.

Meyer, C. B., & Taylor, S.E. (1986). Adjustment to rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 1226-1234.

NOI Polls Limited (2013) Almost 3 in 10 Nigerians claim to know a rape victim. Available online: Retrieved on 13 November, 2013.

Ogbo, Patience. (2013) “Lagos Record 678 Rape Cases in One Year”, The Eagle Online, April 15, 2013. Available at: Retrieved on 30 September, 2013.

Regehr, C., Cadell, S., & Jansen, K. (1999). Perceptions of control and long-term recovery from rape. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 69, 110-114.

Starzynski, L. L. Ullman, S. E., Filipas, H. H.,Townsend, S. M. (2005). Correlates of women’s sexual assault disclosure to informal and formal support sources. Violence and Victims, 20, 417-432.

Sturza, M. L., & Campbell, R. (2005). An exploratory study of rape survivors’ prescription drug use as a means of coping with sexual assault. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29, 353-363.

Valentiner, D. P., Foa, E. B., Riggs, D. S., and Gershuny, B. S. (1996). Coping strategies and post-traumatic stress disorder in female of sexual and nonsexual assault [Short reports]. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105, 455-458.

Van Dijk, J.J.M., van Kesteren, J.N. & Smit, P. (2008). Criminal Victimisation in International Perspective, Key findings from the 2004-2005 ICVS and EU ICS. The Hague, Boom Legal Publishers.

White Kress,V. E.,Trippany, R. L., & Noland, J. M. (2003). Responding to sexual assault victims: considerations for college counselors. Journal of College Counseling, 6, 124-133.

Wyatt, G.E., Notgrass, C.M. and Newcomb, M. (1990). Internal and external mediators of women’s rape experiences. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 14, 153-176.

Yishua, Olukorede. (2011) “Rape: A Crime Whose Victims Love to Remain Anonymous” The Nation Newspaper 26 September, 2011 p. 23.