In today’s world there is an international epidemic of sexual violence, with emphasis on women being the ideal victim. Though a woman will never fully recover from the traumatic event, there are various treatment options to help her cope and live through her everyday life. Survivors of sexual assault tend to avoid any scenario that reminds them of the trauma, and also suffer from anxiousness feelings in which they had never before. This feeling of anxiousness can become so intense it disrupts their everyday lives (Kaczkurkin & Foa, 2015). In this paper, I will review and discuss the research on how female survivors of sexual assault suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the main form of treatments which are designed to help.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, which I will further reference as PTSD, is an anxiety disorder which is prompted by an individual undergoing a traumatic or horrifying event. To be diagnosed with PTSD, an individual must experience a severe stressor or a traumatic event, which one then responds to with fear, defenselessness, or terror. Those who have PTSD may relive the incident through intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares (Yehuda).
Campbell, Lichty, Sturza, and Raja formed a study which depicted the relationship between sexual assault and gynecological health symptoms in a trial of largely African American female veterans. After enduring such a traumatic event, the victims may feel extremely uncomfortable or afraid of completing a gynecologic examination. Some of the related gynecological health symptoms are such of pelvic pain and painful intercourse, and those who had been sexually victimized faced significantly more occasional symptoms. They are terrified of letting themselves be so vulnerable and exposed with their gynocologist because of how brutally objectified they were in the past.
Keep in mind, there is no ‘specific’ treatment for every victim suffering with PTSD, as the disorder can exhibit itself in many ways. When creating effective treatment methods for sexual-assault-related PTSD, it is extremely important to consider the biological, psychological, and sociological impacts.
Some studies have found that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most studied forms of treatments for PTSD in rape victims. CBT set in the context of an sympathetic and supportive therapeutic relationship. These types of therapies typically include pieces of having patients exploit themselves to memories of the trauma, imagination exposure, and cognitive restructuring (Frazier).
Another form of therapy, which is similar to that of CBT, is exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is an effective intervention which assists in maintaining PTSD. Exposure therapy is designed for helping the rape survivor confront her feared situation, in a safe way, on top of that they imagine recollections of the trauma. The treatment involves the patient repeatedly revisiting the trauma memory by visualizing the event in their imagination, and recounting the event verbally in session with a therapist. The therapeutic objective is to activate trauma-related fear and then alter the pathological components that are thought to contain PTSD. To obtain the objective, the patient is exposed to repeated, prolonged confrontation of their feared situations (ebscohost.com).
In summary, there is an international epidemic of sexual violence, in today’s world, with women being the ideal target. Knowing a woman will never fully recover from such a horrifying event, and will forever suffer in one way or another, is devastating. Luckly, there are treatment options for her to undergo that will help her to live her everyday life.
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