Flight, fight and freeze: Digging deeper into psychological response of sexual assault
Experts are informing the public and law enforcement that a psychological response to sexual assault should change the way counselors or law enforcement interview sexual assault victims.
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Experts are informing the public and law enforcement that a psychological response to sexual assault should change the way counselors or law enforcement interview sexual assault victims.
Rape trauma syndrome is a common response to sexual assault which includes the flight, fight or freeze response. After a sexual assault, victims could suffer a temporary memory loss because they "freeze" during the traumatic event.
Jen Alder at the CARE Violence Prevention and Response office at UNCW says some victims cannot encode information during sexual assault, which leads to this memory loss.
"People tend to be flooded with different hormones and their brain tends to be flooded with different chemicals," says Alder, "So they tend to forget what exactly happened during a sexual assault."
Deanna Stoker and the team at Coastal Horizons Rape Crisis Center provide in service training to teach law enforcement specifically the "freeze" response when interviewing survivors of sexual assault.
"It may mean that you don't interview them immediately. It may mean you take some time and build a repore with them and let them take a couple of days to put the pieces together," says Stoker.
Stoker says both law enforcement and the Rape Crisis Center have the same goal which will help to end sexual violence in the community.