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Comparison of trauma on survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence in Limpopo

Mashudu Davhana-Maselesele, Sylvester Madu, Gail E. Wyatt, John K. Williams, Lufuno Makhado, Lauren H. Wong

Health SA Gesondheid; Vol 19, No 1 (2014), 11 pages. doi: 10.4102/hsag.v19i1.683

Submitted: 23 June 2012
Published:  20 June 2014

Abstract

Background: Gender-based violence is a challenge in South Africa, despite available interventions. Caring for the survivors of both forms of violence is critical for ensuring their speedy recovery.

Objectives: To compare the effects of trauma on female survivors of sexual assault versus those experienced by survivors of physical assault by their intimate partners.

Method: A quantitative cross-sectional comparative study design was used to compare 30 sexually-assaulted women and 30 physically-assaulted women regarding depressive symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder and coping styles three months after the incident. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the survivors of both types of assault and the Beck Depression Inventory posttraumatic stress disorder checklist and Brief COPE Inventory were administered in order to obtain quantitative data. Both parametric and non-parametric statistics were employed. Ethical measures were adhered to throughout the research process.

Results: A significantly-higher proportion of sexually-assaulted women disclosed the incident to family (p = 0.021). The majority of sexually- (90%) and physically- (86%) assaulted women were likely to recall the incident. Sexually-assaulted women had a significantly-higher mean for avoidance/numbness (p < 0.001) and physical-assaulted women in arousal (p > 0.051). About 41% of sexually-assaulted participants reported severe depression. Findings confirmed that sexual assault is more personal whilst physical assault is more interpersonal. If physically-assaulted women were removed from the perpetrators they recovered faster than sexually-assaulted women. Their stay with the perpetrators may perpetuate the violence.

Conclusion: The need for counselling and support for the survivors of both traumas was recommended. All stakeholders should be educated to provide support to survivors of both traumas.

 

Agtergrond: Ten spyte daarvan dat daar intervensies beskikbaar is, bly geslagsgebaseerde geweld ‘n uitdaging in Suid-Afrika. Die versorging van die oorlewendes geweld is van kritieke belang om die oorlewendes se spoedige herstel te verseker.

Doelwitte: Die doel was om die gevolge van trauma op die vroulike slagoffers van seksuele aanranding te vergelyk met die trauma wat die oorlewendes van fisiese aanranding ervaar het.

Metode: ‘n Kwantitatiewe dwarssnit ontwerp is gebruik om 30 seksueel aangerande vroue en 30 fisiek aangerande vroue te vergelyk sover dit depressiesimptome, posttroumatiese stresversteuring en coping styl betref drie maande na die voorval plaasgevind het. Semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude is gevoer met die oorlewendes van beide soorte aanvalle, terwyl die Beck depressie-inventaris, die kontrolelys vir posttroumatiese stresversteuring en die bondige COPE-inventaris afgeneem is om kwantitatiewe data te bekom. Sowel parametriese as nie-parametriese statistiek is gebruik. Etiese vereistes is regdeur die navorsingsproses nagekom.

Resultate: ‘n Aansienlik hoër persentasie seksueel aangerande vrouens het hulle gesin oor die voorval ingelig (p = 0.021). Die meeste seksueel (90%) en fisiek (86%) aangerande vrouens het die voorval onthou. Seksueel aangerande vrouens toon ‘n aansienlik hoër gemiddelde vir vermyding of gevoelloosheid (p < 0.001) en fisiese aangerande vrouens het ‘n hoër gemiddelde vir opwekking (p > 0.051). Sowat 41% van die seksueel aangerande deelnemers meld erge depressie. Die studie bevestig dat seksuele aanranding persoonliker is, terwyl fisieke aanranding meer interpersoonlik is. As fisiek aangerand vroue van die oortreders verwyder word, herstel hulle vinniger as die seksueel aangerande vroue. As hulle by die oortreders bly, kan die geweld voortduur.

Gevolgtrekking: Die noodsaak aan berading en ondersteuning vir beide groepe oorlewendes word aanbeveel. Alle belanghebbendes moet opgevoed word om ondersteuning aan oorlewendes te bied.


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Author affiliations

Mashudu Davhana-Maselesele, Rectorate, North-West University, Mafikeng Campus, South Africa
Sylvester Madu, Department of Psychology, University of Limpopo, South Africa
Gail E. Wyatt, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA-Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, United States
John K. Williams, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA-Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, United States
Lufuno Makhado, Department of Nursing Science, North-West University, Mafikeng Campus, South Africa
Lauren H. Wong, Department of Psychology, UCLA-Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, United States

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