New psychology study reveals unexamined costs of rape

October 9, 2012

Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are commonly associated with sexual assault, but a new study from The University of Texas at Austin shows that female victims suffer from a wide spectrum of debilitating effects that may often go unnoticed or undiagnosed.

Researchers Carin Perilloux, now a visiting assistant professor at Union College in New York, and David Buss, a professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, found significant of rape and attempted sexual assault in 13 domains of psychological and social functioning, including self-esteem, social reputation, and self-perceived mate value.

The study, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the , will lend important insight into psychological and , and possibly interventions, for rape and sexual assault victims.

"These findings document that victims of sexual assault, and even victims of attempted sexual assault, suffer psychological and social costs more far ranging than previously suspected," says Perilloux, who earned her Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin in 2011.

As part of the study, the researchers conducted a survey with 140 women who had experienced rape or attempted sexual assault. On a scale of negative three to positive three, with zero representing no change, they evaluated the severity of damage they experienced after their rapes or assaults. The respondents also provided subjective descriptions of the impact of their experiences in relation to each of the psychological and that were studied.

Though all victims of rape and attempted sexual assault reported negative effects in every domain, reported significantly more negative outcomes than victims of attempted rape in 11 domains.

Across the board, the most negatively affected domains were self-esteem, sexual reputation, (i.e. being labeled as promiscuous), frequency of sex, desire to have sex, and self-perceived mate value or desirability.

Though the sobering data cannot be taken lightly, hope could be found in some respondents' self-described feelings of optimism.

"Women often show exceptional resilience," Perilloux says. "With support and assistance, many rape victims may be able to regain normalcy in some of the domains of their lives affected by the victimization."

Explore further: Pain from sexual assault often untreated, study says

Related Stories

Pain from sexual assault often untreated, study says

September 14, 2012
(HealthDay)—Although most victims of sexual assault experience severe pain after their attack, fewer than one-third receive medication to ease their discomfort, according to a new study.

BUSM professor outlines best practices for treating victims of sexual assault

August 31, 2011
Judith A. Linden, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and vice chair for education in the department of emergency medicine at Boston Medical Center (BMC), has written ...

The Medical Minute: Sexual abuse can have long-term effects

April 16, 2012
April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault is, unfortunately, a rampant issue. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), someone in the United States is sexually assaulted ...

Recommended for you

Researchers link epigenetic aging to bipolar disorder

December 12, 2017
Bipolar disorder may involve accelerated epigenetic aging, which could explain why persons with the disorder are more likely to have - and die from - age-related diseases, according to researchers from The University of Texas ...

Researchers find common psychological traits in group of Italians aged 90 to 101

December 12, 2017
In remote Italian villages nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and mountains lives a group of several hundred citizens over the age of 90. Researchers at the University of Rome La Sapienza and University of California San ...

Twitter can reveal our shared mood

December 11, 2017
In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Bristol have analysed mood indicators in text from 800 million anonymous messages posted on Twitter. These tweets were found to reflect strong patterns ...

New therapy can help schizophrenia sufferers re-engage socially

December 11, 2017
A new therapy aimed at helping young people suffering from schizophrenia to reconnect and engage with the world around them has had promising results, according to a new University of Sussex-led study.

Certain books can increase infant learning during shared reading, study shows

December 11, 2017
Parents and pediatricians know that reading to infants is a good thing, but new research shows reading books that clearly name and label people and objects is even better.

Infant brain responses predict reading speed in secondary school

December 11, 2017
A study conducted at the Department of Psychology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and Jyväskylä Centre for Interdisciplinary Brain Research (CIBR) has found that the brain responses of infants with an inherited ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.