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J Abnorm Psychol. 2006 Nov;115(4):753-9.

Gender and posttraumatic stress: sexual violence as an explanation for women's increased risk.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043, USA.


Women are approximately twice as likely as men to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the cause of this disparity remains unclear. This study evaluated 2 alternative explanations of gender differences in PTSD, one pointing to an intrinsic vulnerability in women and the other emphasizing sexual violence across the life span. To test these competing theories, the authors analyzed National Violence Against Women Survey data from 591 victims of partner aggression. Results suggested that gender, when considered alone, has a small but significant effect on PTSD symptom severity. However, once models factor in sexual victimization history, the latter replaces gender as a key determinant of PTSD symptoms. These findings argue against theories of "feminine vulnerability," instead linking PTSD risk to sexually violent situations.

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