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Long-Term Psychological Distress Associated With Marital Rape and Aggravated Assault: A Comparison to Other Crime Victims

NCJ Number
Journal of Family Violence Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1992) Pages: 283-296
Date Published
14 pages
This study compared 47 women who reported being victims of a single violent crime and 96 nonvictimized women in Charleston County, South Carolina and also compared victims of spousal rape and abuse to victims of rape and aggravated assault perpetrated by persons other than the victim's husband.
The 47 women were placed into one of four victim groups based on the type of crime and the reported assailant: marital rape, stranger rape, marital assault, and other assault. A structured interview was used to obtain information on participants' lifetime experiences with criminal victimization. The interview included questions about rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery, and burglary. In addition, the interview assessed demographic and criminal incident characteristics and victim age at the time of the crime. The four victim groups were compared on measures of psychological functioning and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Crime victims reported higher levels of psychological distress than nonvictimized women across a variety of symptom areas. No group differences occurred among the four victim groups on any of the study measures. Women assaulted by their husbands were more likely to report that the assault was one in a series of similar attacks. Victims of aggravated assault were more likely than rape victims to report that they feared for their lives during the assault. Findings are discussed with respect to societal views on the comparative severity of marital and stranger assault. 26 references and 3 tables

Date Published: January 1, 1992