oa Curationis - Lived experiences of male intimate partners of female rape victims in Cape Town, South Africa : original research
Background : Sexual violence in South Africa is a major public health and social problem. Sexual assault or rape is a traumatic event which disrupts not only the life of the female rape victim, but also that of her male intimate partner (MIP), irrespective of whether he witnessed or was informed of the incident.
Objectives : The study aimed to explore the lived experiences of MIPs of female rape victims and the meaning of these experiences in the six months following the partner's rape.
Method : We conducted a longitudinal hermeneutic phenomenological study. Nine purposively sampled adult MIPs were interviewed over a period of six months. The participants were in an intimate relationship with a female rape victim prior to and immediately after the rape; their partners had been treated at a specialised centre for victims of rape and sexual assault. Four interviews were conducted with each of the nine intimate partners of female rape victims: (1) within 14 days of, (2) a month after, (3) three months after, and (4) six months after the rape.
Results : Two major themes emerged: being-in-the-world as a secondary victim of rape, and living in multiple worlds, those of their female partners, family, friends, society, employers or colleagues, professionals and the justice system. The participant's familiar world became strange and even threatening, and his relationship with his partner became uncertain.
Conclusion : Early supportive intervention for intimate partners of female rape victims is required to prevent on-going emotional trauma and alleviate the effects of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and suffering at intra- and interpersonal levels.
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