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Trauma Violence Abuse. 2003 Oct;4(4):309-22.

Conceptualizing the harm done by rape: applications of trauma theory to experiences of sexual assault.

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1
University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 West Harrison Street (M/C 285), Chicago, IL 60607-7134, USA. swasco@uic.edu

Abstract

Based on a review of theory and evidence, this article highlights the limitations of trauma response models and applications of posttraumatic stress to characterize the experiences of women who are raped. There are two primary problems with trauma response theories. First, traditional notions of trauma are likely too narrow to accurately capture the complexities of women's experiences of sexual violence in a gendered society. Second, the symptoms emphasized by clinical applications of the trauma model may legitimate one sociocultural manifestation of distress while excluding others. Alternative conceptualizations are presented to stimulate more ecologically grounded and culturally inclusive study of sexual violence. Using the rape of women as an example, this article illustrates the limitations of Western views of trauma and encourages researchers and practitioners to expand notions of survivors' responses to painful events.

PMID:
15006299
DOI:
10.1177/1524838003256560
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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