Sexual assault affects women of all ages and all cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. About 20%–25% of all adult women, 15% of college women, and 12% of adolescent girls report having experienced sexual abuse and/or assault during their lifetimes, and these rates are higher for African American women. Each year, more than 1.5 million women in the United States are physically and/or sexually abused by an intimate partner, and women are 10 times more likely than men to be killed by an intimate sexual partner. Despite the serious negative impact of sexual assault on physical and psychological well-being, only 10% of women who are assaulted seek professional help. In addition to physical symptoms such as tremulousness and cold sweats, initial psychological reactions to sexual assault include shock, numbness, withdrawal, and denial. Prolonged symptoms may include startle reactions, disturbed sleep, extreme fatigue, and somatic complaints. Although symptoms tend to dissipate over time, they often return intermittently over the course of ensuing months and even years. Long-term negative sequelae may include sexual dysfunction and aversion, impaired ability to establish healthy interpersonal relationships, and feelings of helplessness, shame, vulnerability, and depression. Posttraumatic stress disorder is particularly common and intense when there is a history of abuse.

Your session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In to Access Full Content
Sign in via Athens (What is this?)
Athens is a service for single sign-on which enables access to all of an institution's subscriptions on- or off-site.
Not a subscriber?

Subscribe Now/Learn More

PsychiatryOnline subscription options offer access to the DSM-5 library, books, journals, CME, and patient resources. This all-in-one virtual library provides psychiatrists and mental health professionals with key resources for diagnosis, treatment, research, and professional development.

Need more help? PsychiatryOnline Customer Service may be reached by emailing PsychiatryOnline@psych.org or by calling 800-368-5777 (in the U.S.) or 703-907-7322 (outside the U.S.).

Table Reference Number
TABLE 39–15. Special considerations in the evaluation and treatment of women who have been sexually assaulted


Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).
Related Content
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry, 5th Edition > Chapter 44.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th Edition > Chapter 49.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 37.  >
Psychiatric News
Read more at Psychiatric News >>
PubMed Articles
  • Print
  • PDF
  • E-mail
  • Chapter Alerts
  • Get Citation