Adolescent girls, college women and household-residing adult women who reported sexual revictimization were at nearly a 50% greater risk for lifetime posttraumatic stress disorder, according to study results published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
“Sexual revictimization disproportionately affects girls and women, with female victims reporting more than 90% of all sexual assaults,” the researchers wrote.
The study included 1,763 adolescent girls, 2,000 college women and 3,001 household-residing adult women who completed surveys to assess unwanted sexual acts occurring over the women’s life span, including use of force, threat of force, or incapacitation via drug or alcohol use.
Approximately 53% of victimized adolescents, 50% of college women and 58.8% of household-residing women reported sexual revictimization. Twenty percent of adolescents, 40% of college women and 27.2% of household-residing women who were revictimized met DSM-IV criteria for past 6-month PTSD. The odds of meeting criteria for past 6-month PTSD were 4.3 to 8.2 times higher for those women who were revictimized and 2.4 to 3.5 times higher for those victimized once.
According to the researchers, the study results suggest the importance of screening women for rape experiences that are most likely to be associated with PTSD.
“Although treatment approaches for PTSD symptoms emanating from single or multiple sexual assaults are not likely to be markedly different, a longer course of treatment may be useful in the case of revictimization, particularly if significant self-blame or safety concerns are present because of experiencing repeated victimization,” they wrote.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.