Twelve women, reporting rape to the police, were interviewed on three occasions over a 4-month period. Their psychological and behavioural experiences, during that time, were compared with those of 12 controls: women who were attending a Family Planning Clinic and without a history of such trauma, and small numbers of victims of non-sexual assault. All victims showed, initially, high levels of distress or some psychopathology but only the rape victims were reliable in attending follow-up appointments. In all but one case the acute, intense symptoms of distress resolved, but other substantial changes in lifestyle had taken place. The particular difficulties in counselling and research in this area were highlighted by this pilot work. Would-be counsellors should be cautious about taking on this kind of work unless considerable practical and emotional support is available to them.