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Depress Anxiety. 2010 Aug;27(8):708-15. doi: 10.1002/da.20719.

The role of rape tactics in risk for posttraumatic stress disorder and major depression: results from a national sample of college women.

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Department of Psychology, Clemson University, South Carolina, USA.



College women are at high risk for substance-involved rape. However, most studies have focused on forcible rape and have not differentiated these tactics from tactics that involve drug or alcohol intoxication. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of lifetime exposure to forcible rape (FR), incapacitated rape (IR), and drug-alcohol facilitated rape (DAFR) tactics on risk for PTSD and depression. A secondary purpose was to examine the role of different incident characteristics, including relationship to the perpetrator, fear, injury, force, memory, and acknowledgement.


A national sample of 2,000 college women completed structured telephone interviews assessing demographics, psychiatric diagnoses, and rape experiences.


Multivariate logistic regression analyses including demographic variables, multiple rape history, and rape tactics indicated that all three tactics were associated with increased risk for PTSD and depression. Correlational analyses revealed that rape tactics differed in relation to incident characteristics. Multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that only physical injury was positively associated with depression and no characteristics were related to PTSD.


The strong association between IR/DAFR and psychiatric diagnoses suggests that the definition of rape experiences be expanded to include substance-involved tactics. Differing incident characteristics imply that IR/DAFR experiences are associated with different pathways to psychiatric symptoms in comparison to FR experiences.

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