The psychological, neurobiological and sexual functioning in adolescent victims of first time rape

  • Auteur Iva Bicanic, Ad de Jongh
  • Pdf openbaar No

This article provides an overview of previously published substudies on the psychological, neurobiological and sexual functioning, in victims of first time rape. The patient group consisted of 323 female adolescents aged 12–25 years who were admitted at the Psychotrauma Center for Children and Youth in the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU) for mental health treatment between 2005-2011. In this group, 79.6% and 20.4% reported rape and attempted rape respectively. Victims of chronic sexual abuse were excluded from the study. Results of the various substudies show that help-seeking victims of first rape reported high levels of psychological distress. Next, results show that adolescents with rape-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have lower cortisol and dehydro-epiandrosteron sulfate (DHEAS) levels compared to non-victimized controls, suggesting dysregulated functioning of the biological stress system. Finally, it appeared that three years after receiving evidence-based treatment for PTSD, victims were still significantly more likely to have a sexual dysfunction and a pelvic floor dysfunction compared to non-victimized controls. Summarized, the results lead to the suggestion that the experience of a first time rape has a significant negative impact on various life domains. Based on prior research, the authors argue that immediate professional help as provided to victims in the multidisciplinary Center for Sexual Assault can partly prevent the onset of problems as well as sexual revictimization.

Gepubliceerd in 2016, Volume 40, Issue 1