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Abstract

This longitudinal study on rape victims looks at four life stress events and their association with recovery from rape. Data from 88% of the original sample of 92 adult victims 4 to 6 years after rape suggest that life stress before rape may act to hasten or to inhibit the recovery process. Stress is not uniform in its effect. Different types of stress have different effects. Earlier victimization and chronic life stressors such as economic hardship, lack of social support, and pre-existing biopsychosocial problems tend to delay recovery. In contrast, family grief stress may act as an energizing factor in that coping skills may have been developed through experiencing the grief process and are available to the victim for settlement of rape trauma. Recent life changes have a lack of association with recovery although they may be important in some individual cases.