After a traumatic event, such as rape or sexual assault, often victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. I wanted to research how common the disorder is in events like this. This disorder affects nine to fifteen percent of the general population, and close to fifty percent of women who have reported being raped. In the 1989 U.S. Bureau of the Census, the estimated population of U.S. adult women was 96,056,000. Of those women, thirteen percent (12,151,084) women reported experiencing complete rape and fourteen percent reported experiencing other sexual assault (13,755,219). Of those women, sixty percent reported PTSD symptoms after the rape or assault, and twenty-six percent reported long-term symptoms. These alarmingly high numbers show that therapy for PTSD is extremely important.
One of the complications with PTSD is that it can be hard to diagnose because of the similarity in symptoms with other types of anxiety disorders. Although PTSD can be hard to diagnose, it is not a rare disorder among people who has suffered a traumatic event like rape, as many as one half of rape victims may suffer from chronic PTSD (Rothbaum, Astin, and Marsteller, 607). In one study by Edna Foa and Barbara Rothbaum, they found that seventy-six percent of rape victims reported PTSD symptoms at some point within a year after the assault (Foa and Rothbaum, 13). Foa and Rothbaum found that nearly one hundred percent of all rape victims in their study presented with PTSD symptoms soon after the incident, but by six months post-incident it went down to fourty-one percent. Luckily, there are multiple types of treatment for PTSD. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, medication, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are all types of treatment used for PTSD (Smith and Segal). After researching both cognitive-behavioral therapy and EMDR, I have found that cognitive-behavioral therapy elicits a greater response than EMDR therapy, however, both are effective.
After all of my research, it has come clear to me how important it is for people with PTSD to become diagnosed and get treated. It is also important for those suffering from it to know that it is not an uncommon disorder, and that they are not alone. So often after traumatic events like sexual assault or rape, the victims blames themselves and does not confront the psychological effects it has on someone. But the more people learn about the disorder and how treatable it is, the more awareness the public has about the disorder, the more people can confront rape, sexual assault, and the psychological effects of it.
Foa, Edna B., and Barbara Olasov Rothbaum. "Diagnosis and Prevalance of PTSD Following Assault." Treating the trauma of rape: cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD. New York: Guilford, 1998. 8-26. Web. 25 April 2013
Rothbaum, Barbara Olasov, Millie C. Astin, and Fred Marsteller. "Prolonged Exposure Versus Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR) For PTSD Rape Victims." Journal Of Traumatic Stress 18.6 (2005): 607-616. EBSCO MegaFILE. Web. 1 May 2013.
Smith, Melinda, and Jeanne Segal. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms, Treatment and Self-Help." Helpguide. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2013.<http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm>