J Korean Med Sci.  2020 Apr;35(19):e144. 10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e144.

Assault-related Factors and Trauma-related Cognitions Associated with Post-traumatic Stress Symptoms in High-distress and Low-distress Korean Female Victims of Sexual Assault

  • 1Department of Counseling Psychology, Hanyang Cyber University, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Sunflower Center of Southern Gyeonggi for Women and Children Victims of Violence, Suwon, Korea
  • 3Center for Traumatic Stress, Ajou University Medical Center, Suwon, Korea
  • 4Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea


Information about the factors involved in the progress of both high distressed and low distressed victims in the early days after a sexual assault are needed to provide effective intervention for victims of sexual assault. In this study, we examined the relationship among posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, assault-related factors and trauma-related cognitions in Korean female victims of sexual assault.
For this study, we retrospectively investigated the records of 94 female victims from the Sunflower Center for Women and Children Victims of Violence at the Ajou University Hospital in Korea. Demographic characteristics and the features of the sexual assault, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and trauma-related cognition were obtained from data recorded at the initial assessment. One month after the initial assessment, victims were contacted by telephone and their PTSD symptom severity was re-evaluated. The sample of 94 participants were divided into two groups depending on the PTSD symptom scale scores at initial assessment: High-distress group and Low-distress group.
Repeated-measured analyses of variance revealed that the high-distress group showed a decrease in PTSD symptom severity over the month, while the low-distress group did not show significant change of PTSD symptom severity. In correlation analysis, negative thoughts and beliefs about the assault were strongly correlated with PTSD symptom severity one month later in both the low-distress and high-distress groups.
Our results suggest that trauma-related cognitions seem to play an important role in the maintenance of PTSD both of high-distress and low-distress groups, and that effective intervention will need to address these cognitive factors.


Sexual Assault; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Cognitions; Assault Characteristic; Progress
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