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To what extent does sexual assault affect mental health?

Mucahit Oruc, Ahmet Sedat Dundar, Ismail Altin, Ozlem Ozel Ozcan, Osman Celbis.


This study aimed to examine the effects of the assault on mental health with the time since the event of sexual assault, the characteristics of the perpetrator and the victim, and psychiatric diagnoses. A retrospective examination was made of the records of 105 cases of sexual assault of all age groups, who were referred for forensic psychiatric examination by the forensic authorities between 1 January 2012 and 30 December 2017 to the Inonu University Medical Faculty Health Committee for the Determination of Sexual Abuse/Assault Crimes. In the examination, the characteristics of the abuse, the type of sexual assault and effects on mental health, psychiatric diagnoses of the victim after the event, and psychiatric diagnoses made after examination by the committee were evaluated retrospectively. The 105 cases examined comprised 83 (79%) females and 22 (21%) males with a mean age of 14.3±7.4 years, and 22 (21%) cases aged ≥18 years. The types of sexual assault were non-penetrative assault in 56 (53.3%) cases and penetrative assault in 49 (46.7%). Mental health impairment at a level that impaired functionality was determined in 52 (49.5%) cases and at a level that did not impair functionality in 53 (50.5%) cases. It seems to be inevitable that mental health is affected following sexual assault. Moreover, a mental disorder at a level that will impair the functionality of the victim may emerge with the passage of time since the sexual assault and the degree of this impairment may only be revealed with examinations made after a certain time.

Key words: Sexual assault, psychopathological findings, mental health

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