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NCJ Number: 202833 Find in a Library
Title: Conceptualizing the Harm Done by Rape: Applications of Trauma Theory to Experiences of Sexual Assault
Journal: Trauma, Violence, & Abuse: A Review Journal  Volume:4  Issue:4  Dated:October 2003  Pages:309-322
Author(s): Sharon M. Wasco
Editor(s): Jon R. Conte
Date Published: October 2003
Page Count: 14
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article highlights the ways that the trauma response paradigm and the diagnostic classification of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), when used as lens for viewing sexual violence, may restrict the understanding of survivors’ experiences.
Abstract: Critics of contemporary trauma frameworks, such as trauma response models and notions of posttraumatic stress have fallen short in understanding the full range of experiences of abused women and can be exclusionary, tending to decontextualize acts of violence against women. This article highlights the limitations of trauma response models and applications of posttraumatic stress to characterize the experiences of women who are raped. Two primary questions guide the review and discussion presented in this article: (1) are women’s experiences of sexual assault adequately characterized by contemporary definitions of trauma and symptoms of posttraumatic stress and (2) how can one build upon the posttraumatic stress framework to improve the understanding of postassault experiences such as distress and recovery? The evidence presented does not support the replacement of the posttraumatic stress model with better, more inclusive diagnostic criteria for rape harm. These may be considered misguided. The findings do suggest that the understanding of a broad range of postassault experiences including, posttraumatic stress by explicitly considering the social context of sexual violence in approaches to working with survivors be improved. Broad conceptualizations of rape and the harm it causes may lead to clinical and community interventions that address a wider range of injury to victims. It is hoped that the ideas presented in this article can be used to expand understandings of other traumas. References
Main Term(s): Sexual assault
Index Term(s): Post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD); Psychological victimization effects; Rape; Rape counseling; Sex offenses; Sexual assault trauma; Sexual assault victims; Victim reactions to crime; Victimization models; Victims of violent crime
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