The Traumatic Effects of Sexual Assault: A literature review of the effects of sexual assault on college students

Courtney Shields


There are prevailing rape myths surrounding anyone who may have experienced a sexual assault instance; however, these myths prevail even more on college campuses due to the environment in which many of these assaults take place. This literature review looks particularly at sexual assaults against college-aged individuals and the traumatic effects that occur following the incident. Roughly 1 in 5 females and 1 in 71 males will experience sexual assault while in college (McCauley, 2015) and of these assaults roughly 20% will actually be reported to police (Sinozich, 2014). Often times individuals, male and female alike, who are assaulted sexually face symptoms of depression, decreased success in academic settings, poor relationships, and an increased likelihood in engaging in risky behaviors. Half of female undergraduate rape survivors will meet the criteria to be diagnosed with PTSD for the rest of their lifetime (Kilpatrick, Resnick, Ruggiero, Conoscenti, & McCauley, 2007).

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