The Trauma of Sexual Assault: Treatment, Prevention, and Practice

By Jenny Petrak; Barbara Hedge | Go to book overview
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Chapter 1

Jenny Petrak


Rape and sexual assault are common crimes in our society. While few would disagree that the aftermath of sexual assault is traumatic for the individual, it has only been in the past two decades that any systematic description of any psychological consequences has occurred. The advent of feminism in the 1970s led to an increasing focus on the legal, medical, and psychosocial needs of survivors, but, as recently as 1992, the American Medical Association acknowledged the large impact that sexual violence against women has on health care and admits that departments are poorly prepared and researched to deal with this problem (Council on Scientific Affairs, 1992).

Research into sexual assault largely originates from the USA and the applicability of these studies to other populations is not known. However, at least one UK study echoes the above concern and makes clear recommendations for an improvement in medical and psychological services for women, arguing that more specialized support services are needed than what is currently on offer (Lees and Gregory, 1993). The literature on and services for male rape are even more limited. This may be due to the fact that it has only recently been criminalized in the UK (Home Office, 1994) and those rates of reporting are low.

This book will attempt to open the debate on sexual assault by bringing together existing research findings and theoretical perspectives on female and male rape and sexual assault and consider the implications for future practice and policy. Different aspects of male and female sexual assault


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