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Sexual Assaults And Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

There is extensive research on the effects of sexual victimization on female victims and the occurrences of PTSD, while only a handful of studies address implications for male victims. This section will evaluate three studies that specifically address or make mention of male victims and PTSD.

There is a causal link between sexual assault and PTSD. Unfortunately, limited information exists regarding the impact of sexual assault on male victims. There was launched an investigation to determine whether PTSD sufferers are more susceptible to sexual assault than non-PTSD sufferers are or if PTSD occurred because of sexual assault. This longitudinal study followed a represented birth cohort. Researchers diagnosed adolescent mental disorders at age 18 for some cohort members and adult mental disorders at age 26 for others. The authors identified and studied cohort members, in abusive and non-abusive relationships, between the ages of 24 and 26. Sexual assault was a contributing factor for mental illness in females, but not males. Findings indicate females involved in abusive relationships were more likely than males to experience depression, substance abuse, and PTSD.

On the contrary, there were no gender differences in sexual assault victim’s meeting PTSD criteria. Using a cross-sectional analysis of the National Violence against Women Survey (NVAWS), the authors sampled 185 male and 369 female survivors of IPV. 20% males and 24% females had moderate to severe PTSD symptoms. While females had a higher percentage than males, it was not significant enough to constitute a gender difference in predisposition to develop PTSD because of sexual assault. Male victims experience the same life-threatening fear and trauma from their violent relationships as female victims do from theirs. The study of 3461 male university students at 60 sites around the world showed sexual assault was a significant predictor of PTSD at all sites. Higher levels of hostility directed toward the males increased the association between IPV and PTSD.

In summary, the literature says, both, male and female victims exhibit symptoms of PTSD because of IPV; however, the male percentages may be flawed or dated because the body of knowledge lacks consistent, current, and rich research for male outcomes. Minimal research on the topic does little to inform society about the treatment needs for this group. At best, researchers and agencies can make an educated guess about what to do with male victims who suffer from PTSD. This author suspects male victims could respond positively to similar treatment plans used for female victims because PTSD is not a gender-specific condition. The focus of future research should be on systematically studying the causal link between IPV and PTSD in exclusively male populations.

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