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Tonic immobility during sexual assault - a common reaction predicting post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression.
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2017 Aug; 96(8):932-938.AO

Abstract

INTRODUCTION

Active resistance is considered to be the 'normal' reaction during rape. However, studies have indicated that similar to animals, humans exposed to extreme threat may react with a state of involuntary, temporary motor inhibition known as tonic immobility. The aim of the present study was to assess the occurrence of tonic immobility during rape and subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression.

MATERIAL AND METHODS

Tonic immobility at the time of the assault was assessed using the Tonic Immobility Scale in 298 women who had visited the Emergency clinic for raped women within 1 month of a sexual assault. Information about the assault and the victim characteristics were taken from the structured clinical data files. After 6 months, 189 women were assessed regarding the development of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

RESULTS

Of the 298 women, 70% reported significant tonic immobility and 48% reported extreme tonic immobility during the assault. Tonic immobility was associated with the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (OR 2.75; 95% CI 1.50-5.03, p = 0.001) and severe depression (OR 3.42; 95% CI 1.51-7.72, p = 0.003) at 6 months. Further, previous trauma history (OR 2.36; 95% CI 1.48-3.77, p < 0.001) and psychiatric treatment history (OR 2.00; 95% CI 1.26-3.19, p = 0.003) were associated with the tonic immobility response.

CONCLUSIONS

Tonic immobility during rape is a common reaction associated with subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. Knowledge of this reaction in sexual assault victims is important in legal matters and for healthcare follow up.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Clinical Science and Education, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.Department of Clinical Science and Education, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.Department of Clinical Science and Education, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

28589545

Citation

Möller, Anna, et al. "Tonic Immobility During Sexual Assault - a Common Reaction Predicting Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Severe Depression." Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica, vol. 96, no. 8, 2017, pp. 932-938.
Möller A, Söndergaard HP, Helström L. Tonic immobility during sexual assault - a common reaction predicting post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2017;96(8):932-938.
Möller, A., Söndergaard, H. P., & Helström, L. (2017). Tonic immobility during sexual assault - a common reaction predicting post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 96(8), 932-938. https://doi.org/10.1111/aogs.13174
Möller A, Söndergaard HP, Helström L. Tonic Immobility During Sexual Assault - a Common Reaction Predicting Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Severe Depression. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2017;96(8):932-938. PubMed PMID: 28589545.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Tonic immobility during sexual assault - a common reaction predicting post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. AU - Möller,Anna, AU - Söndergaard,Hans Peter, AU - Helström,Lotti, Y1 - 2017/06/22/ PY - 2016/08/30/received PY - 2017/05/21/accepted PY - 2017/6/8/pubmed PY - 2017/8/16/medline PY - 2017/6/8/entrez KW - Depression KW - Tonic Immobility Scale KW - peritraumatic reactions KW - post-traumatic stress disorder KW - rape KW - sexual assault SP - 932 EP - 938 JF - Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica JO - Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand VL - 96 IS - 8 N2 - INTRODUCTION: Active resistance is considered to be the 'normal' reaction during rape. However, studies have indicated that similar to animals, humans exposed to extreme threat may react with a state of involuntary, temporary motor inhibition known as tonic immobility. The aim of the present study was to assess the occurrence of tonic immobility during rape and subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Tonic immobility at the time of the assault was assessed using the Tonic Immobility Scale in 298 women who had visited the Emergency clinic for raped women within 1 month of a sexual assault. Information about the assault and the victim characteristics were taken from the structured clinical data files. After 6 months, 189 women were assessed regarding the development of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. RESULTS: Of the 298 women, 70% reported significant tonic immobility and 48% reported extreme tonic immobility during the assault. Tonic immobility was associated with the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (OR 2.75; 95% CI 1.50-5.03, p = 0.001) and severe depression (OR 3.42; 95% CI 1.51-7.72, p = 0.003) at 6 months. Further, previous trauma history (OR 2.36; 95% CI 1.48-3.77, p < 0.001) and psychiatric treatment history (OR 2.00; 95% CI 1.26-3.19, p = 0.003) were associated with the tonic immobility response. CONCLUSIONS: Tonic immobility during rape is a common reaction associated with subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. Knowledge of this reaction in sexual assault victims is important in legal matters and for healthcare follow up. SN - 1600-0412 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/28589545/full_citation L2 - https://doi.org/10.1111/aogs.13174 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -