Post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common consequences of sexual assault, but it is not invariable.
Our aim was to investigate pre‐, peri‐ and post‐traumatic factors associated with post‐traumatic stress disorder among adult women who had been sexually assaulted.
All women attending a specialist university clinic for victims of sexual assault referred by the courts for a mental health assessment were invited to participate. At the time, the Turkish penal code required such referral (the year up to September 2015). Consenting women completed a sociodemographic information form, the Traumatic Stress Symptom Checklist, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, the Short Form‐36 reflecting perceived quality of life, the Beck Depression Scale and the Beck Anxiety Scale.
Sixty women were eligible and agreed to participate. Two‐thirds of them (41, 68%) reported features of PTSD. In bivariate analyses, the women with PTSD also rated themselves as having a wide range of health and social disadvantages. Self‐perceived poverty of social support and having suicidal thoughts were independently associated with PTSD.
Although the rate of mental health and social problems among the women with PTSD were high, less than a third had actually sought help for their difficulties. While a requirement in the penal code that such women should have a psychiatric assessment seems over‐intrusive and has since been dropped, our findings suggest that more efforts should be made to ensure that such women have help available if they want it.