Ptsd in Female Victims of Sexual Assault

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Women are well aware of the scary but true reality that in their lifetime there is a possibility that they may experience the utmost violation of themselves, sexual assault. One in six women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime (Rainn, 2006). As a society, we learn and are aware of this, but an important question to be asked is, why are some women able to accept and move on from the act and others struggle daily, never really moving on from their experience? It could be because some women are stronger than others, but perhaps there are preconceived and situational factors that cause women to be unable to move forward in life and in the cases presented in this paper, develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in simple terms is a disorder that is experienced after having an unusual traumatic event occur, such as a near death incident, rape, combat, natural disaster or motor vehicle accident, just to name a few. Rape is actually the largest cause of PTSD in both genders, and the lifetime frequency of the disorder for rape victims and sexual assault victims is 32% and 31% respectively (Resick, 2001). Many people may experience symptoms of PTSD directly following a sexual assault, but what this information tells us is that nearly one third of all victims will forever be negatively affected because of the incident. One person’s ten minutes of pleasure or satisfaction is another person’s lifetime suffering.

The situational factors studied in this paper include whether victims who acknowledge their rape are more likely to develop PTSD than those who do not and if the victim’s appraisals of the trauma and its consequences affect the prevalence of PTSD. The preconceived factor studied is the age at which the first sexual assault was experienced.

Layman, Gidycz, and Lynn’s (1996) study questions whether there are differences in post assault symptoms, defense mechanisms, sexual revictimization, and dissociative disorders between the acknowledged and unacknowledged victims. The study focused on all of the above concerns, but my studies are only pertaining to the ones relevant to PTSD. The study was performed on the campus at Ohio University and included 591 females. Each of the participants were given a survey, and after completion, the investigators narrowed it down to 20 females who had acknowledged in their survey they had been victims of rape, 40 women who had not acknowledged their experience as rape, and 23 women who were nonvictims used as the control group.

After the participants were narrowed down into their corresponding category, several measures were taken to assess the individuals perspectives about themselves and their experience. Keeping only the PTSD aspect in mind, the measures used included Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Scale (PK), Dissociative Experience Scale (DES), Sexual Experiences Survey (SES), and the Impact of Event Scale (IES). These along with eight other measures were given to the participants. Once completed they were interviewed by the author of this study, Melissa J. Layman; Layman was unaware of the status of each victim (p. 127). The interview measures included the Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule (DDIS) and the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Module of the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-III_R (SCID).

Results showed that victims who acknowledged their rape reported higher levels of PTSD than those who did not acknowledge the rape. A specific percentage was not given. It is also noted that those sexual assaults involving force and injury are associated with these higher levels of PTSD. The reasoning behind unacknowledged victims not having as many symptoms or never developing PTSD could be because they block it out, try to forget it ever happened. Also in the study Layman et. al states that Koss found in his study that “unacknowledged rape victims were more likely to have been acquainted with their attackers and that the majority...
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