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Rape Investigators - Vicarious Victims (From Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation, P 301-311, 1987, Robert R Hazelwood and Ann Wolbert Burgess, eds. - See NCJ-105948)

NCJ Number
J T Reese
Date Published
11 pages
This paper notes that police rape investigators are particularly vulnerable to stress and its effects, identifies stress defense mechanisms and their effects, and suggests effective strategies for coping with stress.
Dealing regularly with rape victims and their families places police investigators under tremendous emotional stress which is typically addressed with defense mechanisms designed to reduce the psychic effects of such stress. Defense mechanisms can in turn produce destructive behaviors and attitudes such as emotional detachment, the displacement of anger onto family members and friends, the repression of threatening emotions, rationalization, and projection onto others of one's own flaws. Defense mechanisms tend to undermine intimate relationships and produce social isolation. A typical effect of stress is occupational 'burnout,' which is manifested in indifference, cynicism, and psychological withdrawal toward work. Early warning signs of stress can be identified in emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms. Effective strategies for coping with stress are eating three meals a day; avoiding sugar, salt, and animal fat; exercising regularly; getting sufficient sleep; scheduling relaxing and enjoyable activities; no smoking and limited alcohol and caffeine intake; talking out worries; and accepting what cannot be changed. 20 references.


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