Rape & 5 Stages of Grieving

Following a rape, a victim commonly experiences the five stages of grief developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book "Death and Dying." Understanding and working through the five stages of grief assists a victim of rape or other type of sexual assault through the process of recovery.

  1. Denial

    • Denial tends to be the immediate response to a rape. A common form of denial is such that the victim accepts that an assault occurred but avoids recognizing it is of a sexual nature.


    • The second stage of grieving a sexual assault is anger. A victim's anger is directed not only at the perpetrator but many time she demonstrates misplaced anger with herself.


    • Bargaining follows as the third stage of grieving following a rape. The bargaining following a rape tends to center on an objective of minimizing the emotional repercussions.


    • The fourth stage of grieving a rape is depression. The reality of the sexual assault settles in at this juncture as does an overriding sense of hopelessness and shame.


    • Finally, at stage five of the rape grieving process, the victim gains some sense of acceptance. At this juncture, the victim is able to begin to restore a sense of normality to her life.

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  • On Death and Dying; Elisabeth Kübler-Ross; 1969.
  • The Rape Recovery Handbook: Step-By-Step Help for Survivors of Sexual Assault; Aphrodite Matsakis; 2003.
  • Rape Recovery Center


  • Photo Credit Steve Ford Elliott/Everystockphoto.com

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