HTS Theological Studies
On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
This article reflects on the criticism regarding the pastoral counsellor's dealings with spousal rape victims. It argues that counsellors should be sensitive not to be biased, either personally or theologically, and should have an understanding of the biopsychosocial (biological, psychological and social) impact of spousal rape, such as rape-related post-traumatic stress and other related illnesses such as depression, victimisation and stigmatisation. The pastoral counsellors should be aware of the legal and medical ramifications of spousal rape and have knowledge of the correct referral resources and procedures (trusted professionals, shelters and support structures). They should be self-aware and understand the effect that gender or previous traumatic personal experiences may have on their reactions. The article consists of the following sections: the phenomenon 'rape'; acquaintance rape; spousal rape; post-traumatic stress; post-traumatic stress disorder; rape trauma syndrome; cognitive behavioural therapy; spirituality; doctrinal matters; social system of patriarchy; a pastoral counselling model; self-care.