A new study from the Karolinksa Institute and the Stockholm South General Hospital in Sweden has confirmed that many rape victims find it difficult to revolt against the accused or find themselves involuntarily incapable of attacking the attacker.

Most of us, who have never been victims of rape cases, assume that our survival instinct will definitely allow us to defend ourselves, but research shows that many of the victims find themselves in a paralysed position when it comes to defend themselves against the attacker.

This type of situation is called ‘tonic immobility’, where one finds herself in an involuntary and temporary state to react in violent and fearful situations

According to Independent, study lead author Dr Anna Möller said, “The courts may be inclined to dismiss the notion of rape [if] the victim didn’t appear to resist. Instead, what might be interpreted as passive consent is very likely to represent normal and expected biological reactions to an overwhelming threat.”

It was also found in the research that those suffering from tonic immobility are likely to become victims of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) later in their lives.

The research team studied 298 women who had visited doctors in Stockholm within one month of sexual assault. It was then found that around 70 per cent of women were reported to face tonic immobility during the assault while 48 per cent were reported to face extreme tonic disability problems.

To continue with the research study, 189 women — even after six months of the attack — were assessed to find out the development of depression and PTSD.  Of this, 38.1 per cent had developed PTSD and 22.2 per cent suffered from severe depression.

It was later concluded by the researchers that tonic immobility results in 2.75 times increased risk of developing PTSD and 3.42 times of developing severe depression.

Independent reported, “The present study shows that tonic immobility is more common than earlier described. This information is useful both in legal situations and in the psycho education of rape victims. Further, this knowledge can be applied in the education of medical students and law students,” said Dr. Möller.

Also read: Court Allows 10-Year-Old Rape Survivor To Abort Pregnancy

Kavya Kothiyal Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV