Acute mental health symptoms among individuals receiving a sexual assault medical forensic exam: the role of previous intimate partner violence victimization
Sexual assault and intimate partner violence (IPV) are common in the USA, and they often co-occur. Individuals with multiple victimization experiences have more severe mental health outcomes compared to those with one victimization. The current study examined mental health symptoms and their association with IPV victimization history among a sample of individuals who experienced a recent sexual assault and received a sexual assault medical forensic examination. A total of 82 participants (92.70% female) completed a post-sexual assault survey as part of clinical care to coordinate follow-up services. IPV history and prior sexual assault were assessed as well as mental health symptoms including acute stress and depressive symptoms. It was found that individuals with an IPV history reported more acute stress and depressive symptoms compared to those without an IPV history. No differences were found based on prior sexual assault history. These findings highlight the importance of screening for IPV history during the sexual assault medical forensic examination to coordinate care.
KeywordsSexual assault Intimate partner violence Posttraumatic stress Depression Emergency department
We would like to acknowledge the clinical staff, volunteers on the project, and individuals and community partners who assisted with project coordination which include, but are not limited to, Dr. Christine Hahn, Dr. Anna Jaffe, Mollie Selmanoff, Dr. Kathleen Gill-Hopple, Dr. Gweneth Lazenby, Dr. Ryan Byrne, Dr. Ally Dir, Dr. Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo, Karen Hughes, People Against Rape, and Dr. Heidi Resnick. We would also like to acknowledge the grant that funded the follow-up clinic that was awarded to the first author (AKG). Any points of view or opinions contained within this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Manuscript preparation was partially supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (K23DA042935 to the first author), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (K23AA023845 to the second author), and the South Carolina Clinical & Translation Research (SCTR) Institute, with an academic home at the Medical University of South Carolina NIH—NCATS Grant Number UL1 TR001450. This project is supported by the Federal Formula Grant # 2015 VA GX 0001, awarded by the Office of Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice through the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.
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