Interventions to Reduce Distress in Adult Victims of Sexual Violence and Rape: A Systematic Review

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There is moderate evidence that cognitive and behavioural interventions, in particular Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure therapy, Stress Inoculation Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing can be associated with decreased symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and depression in victims of rape and sexual assault in comparison to no treatment.

The traumatic aftermath of sexual assault on victims has become a focus of social and legal policy, scholarly inquiry, and mental health interventions. Although there is evidence of effective treatments for addressing traumatic stress in victims of many types of trauma, treatments specific to victims of sexual assault have not been systematically tested. This review examines the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic interventions in reducing symptoms of distress and trauma for victims of sexual assault and rape. Further well-designed controlled studies that differentiate victims of sexual assault and rape from other traumatic events are needed.

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