Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common consequences of sexual assault, but it is not invariable.
Aim: Our aim was to investigate pre-, peri- and post-traumatic factors associated with post-traumatic stress disorder among adult women who had been sexually assaulted.
Methods: All women attending a specialist university clinic for victims of sexual assault referred by the courts for a mental health assessment were invited to participate. At the time, the Turkish penal code required such referral (the year up to September 2015). Consenting women completed a sociodemographic information form, the Traumatic Stress Symptom Checklist, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, the Short Form-36 reflecting perceived quality of life, the Beck Depression Scale and the Beck Anxiety Scale.
Results: Sixty women were eligible and agreed to participate. Two-thirds of them (41, 68%) reported features of PTSD. In bivariate analyses, the women with PTSD also rated themselves as having a wide range of health and social disadvantages. Self-perceived poverty of social support and having suicidal thoughts were independently associated with PTSD.
Conclusions: Although the rate of mental health and social problems among the women with PTSD were high, less than a third had actually sought help for their difficulties. While a requirement in the penal code that such women should have a psychiatric assessment seems over-intrusive and has since been dropped, our findings suggest that more efforts should be made to ensure that such women have help available if they want it.
Keywords: post-traumatic stress disorder; sexual assault; women.
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.