Although there is extensive research and studies on posttraumatic stress disorder most of it regards male war veterans. The research that has been done shows the importance of intimate relationships for post-trauma functioning and rehabilitation. However, this may differ in crucial ways for women who are sexual assault survivors. The study described below focus’ on the ways that PTSD associates with relationship satisfaction for these women, as well as ways that can help them with rehabilitation.
There were a total of 153 participants in the study, after the elimination process. They were all required to (a) be at least 18 years, proficient in English, and able to pass informed consent comprehension questions; (b) identify as female; (c) continue to experience distress from a sexual assault perpetrated by someone other than their current partner; and (d) be in a significant relationship, defined as married, cohabiting for at least 3 months, or in a committed monogamous relationship for at least 6 months (DiMauro, Renshaw, 2018, pg.5). There were advertisements in the form of flyers posted around the George Mason University and community-based trauma centers as well as outpatient psychological clinics. There were also advertisements posted online on sexual assault survivor resource support sites. The flyers and online advertising directed interested individuals to the study website which included all the information they may need and led them to the eligibility screening. After completing the eligibility screening, selected individuals then completed the PTSD Checklist, Couples Satisfaction Index, Female Sexual Function Index, Communication Patterns Questionnaire, and the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale. All of which test different parts of their relationships.
Although all the study’s participants were in relationships 98.4% were in heterosexual relationships, where the statuses and major racial and ethnic diversity varied. The average age of the participants was about 28.5 years, while the average length of their current relationships was almost 4 years, and the average time since assault was 6.29 years. There were 41.8% of participants who experienced unwanted sexual contact in adulthood, 35.9% of them experienced this before they were 18 years old, and the remaining 22.2% had experiences of sexual assault in both childhood and adulthood. Almost all variables showed correlational relationships with one another, however PTSD symptoms and relationship satisfaction did not prove to be correlated. PTSD symptom severity on relationship satisfaction was significant but in a shocking way. Unlike what was hypothesized it was correlated in a positive, rather than negative direction.
The study does answer the research question. PTSD symptom severity and relationship satisfaction is consistent with previous research that has been done with war veterans. The research shows that people who weren’t in treatment or aren’t currently in treatment have a significant negative correlation while those who were in treatment didn’t show to have any correlation.
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