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Keywords:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder;
  • sexual assault;
  • child abuse;
  • retraumatization

Abstract

This study assessed self and interpersonal dysfunction as well as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among three groups of women: women sexually assaulted in both childhood and adulthood, women sexually assaulted only in adulthood and women who were never assaulted. Rates of PTSD were high and equivalent in the two assault groups. However, retraumatized women were more likely to be alexithymic, show dissociation scores indicating risk for dissociative disorders, and to have attempted suicide compared to the other two groups, who did not differ from each other. Additionally, only the retraumatized women experienced clinically significant levels of interpersonal problems. The findings suggest that formulations more inclusive than PTSD are required to capture the psychological difficulties experienced by this population. Treatment implications are discussed.