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Symptoms of PTSD in a sample of female victims of sexual violence in post-earthquake Haiti.
J Affect Disord 2015; 173:232-8JA

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Globally, sexual violence (SV) impacts 25-33% of women, is often perpetrated by intimate partners and occurs even post-disasters. The 2010 Haiti earthquake occasioned a SV epidemic in Cité Soleil, where over 50% of females are reportedly victims of SV via non-intimate partners/strangers (NPSV). Little is known about the psychological effects of SV perpetrated by NPSV; even less in known about the biopsychosocial consequences of NPSV on women in Haiti. Yet, the World Health Organization recently called for research on NPSV, particularly in poor and disaster-affected countries.

METHODS

As a first step in categorizing the consequences of NPSV on female victims in Haiti, we conducted 2 focus groups of 16 female residents of Cité Soleil who survived the earthquake and its aftershocks, along with ensuing hurricanes and cholera.

RESULTS

Participants reported rapes by strangers who intentionally "crush the uterus." All endorsed criteria for PTSD, including enduring physiological, neurological and psychological symptoms: significant intrusive, avoidance, arousal, cognitive, mood changes, as well as significant distress/impairment in various areas of functioning; and all but one became pregnant from the experience. All denied substance use and other illness that is not associated with the sexual violence.

LIMITATIONS

Our study was exploratory, targeting a small sample of women in one specific neighborhood and cannot be generalized to all SV victims in Haiti.

CONCLUSIONS

Following earthquakes, there should be vigilance by public health officials and rescue teams for prevention of SV against women. Women who survive SV in Haiti should be provided access to trauma-informed care that addresses biological consequences of the SV, as well as biological, neurological and psychological sequelae.

Authors+Show Affiliations

School of Social Work, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, United States. Electronic address: gjrahill@usf.edu.School of Social Work, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, United States.Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, United States.School of Social Work, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, United States.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

25462422

Citation

Rahill, Guitele J., et al. "Symptoms of PTSD in a Sample of Female Victims of Sexual Violence in Post-earthquake Haiti." Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 173, 2015, pp. 232-8.
Rahill GJ, Joshi M, Lescano C, et al. Symptoms of PTSD in a sample of female victims of sexual violence in post-earthquake Haiti. J Affect Disord. 2015;173:232-8.
Rahill, G. J., Joshi, M., Lescano, C., & Holbert, D. (2015). Symptoms of PTSD in a sample of female victims of sexual violence in post-earthquake Haiti. Journal of Affective Disorders, 173, pp. 232-8. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2014.10.067.
Rahill GJ, et al. Symptoms of PTSD in a Sample of Female Victims of Sexual Violence in Post-earthquake Haiti. J Affect Disord. 2015 Mar 1;173:232-8. PubMed PMID: 25462422.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Symptoms of PTSD in a sample of female victims of sexual violence in post-earthquake Haiti. AU - Rahill,Guitele J, AU - Joshi,Manisha, AU - Lescano,Celia, AU - Holbert,Dezeray, Y1 - 2014/11/11/ PY - 2014/09/30/received PY - 2014/10/15/revised PY - 2014/10/28/accepted PY - 2014/12/3/entrez PY - 2014/12/3/pubmed PY - 2015/6/24/medline KW - Cité Soleil KW - Haiti earthquake KW - Haiti sexual violence KW - Haitian PTSD KW - Haitian victims KW - Haitian women SP - 232 EP - 8 JF - Journal of affective disorders JO - J Affect Disord VL - 173 N2 - BACKGROUND: Globally, sexual violence (SV) impacts 25-33% of women, is often perpetrated by intimate partners and occurs even post-disasters. The 2010 Haiti earthquake occasioned a SV epidemic in Cité Soleil, where over 50% of females are reportedly victims of SV via non-intimate partners/strangers (NPSV). Little is known about the psychological effects of SV perpetrated by NPSV; even less in known about the biopsychosocial consequences of NPSV on women in Haiti. Yet, the World Health Organization recently called for research on NPSV, particularly in poor and disaster-affected countries. METHODS: As a first step in categorizing the consequences of NPSV on female victims in Haiti, we conducted 2 focus groups of 16 female residents of Cité Soleil who survived the earthquake and its aftershocks, along with ensuing hurricanes and cholera. RESULTS: Participants reported rapes by strangers who intentionally "crush the uterus." All endorsed criteria for PTSD, including enduring physiological, neurological and psychological symptoms: significant intrusive, avoidance, arousal, cognitive, mood changes, as well as significant distress/impairment in various areas of functioning; and all but one became pregnant from the experience. All denied substance use and other illness that is not associated with the sexual violence. LIMITATIONS: Our study was exploratory, targeting a small sample of women in one specific neighborhood and cannot be generalized to all SV victims in Haiti. CONCLUSIONS: Following earthquakes, there should be vigilance by public health officials and rescue teams for prevention of SV against women. Women who survive SV in Haiti should be provided access to trauma-informed care that addresses biological consequences of the SV, as well as biological, neurological and psychological sequelae. SN - 1573-2517 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/25462422/Symptoms_of_PTSD_in_a_sample_of_female_victims_of_sexual_violence_in_post_earthquake_Haiti_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0165-0327(14)00700-9 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -