World Forensic Festival , Seoul, South Korea, 12 - 18 October 2014, pp.633-634
The evaluation of The Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms In Sexual Assault Victims In The context of Legal Processes
Introduction : The psychological effects of trauma on individuals have been studied for the last 60 years. Although the physical signs of trauma heal rather quickly the psychiatric symptoms takes time to improve. It may take much longer for the person to fully regain the former level of functionality in terms of social, professional and personal well being, or in some cases it may not be possible at all. PTSD symptoms are quite common in patients traumatized as a result of sexual assault. The biggest difference of this kind of trauma is the severity of symptoms in the acute phase and the much longer recovery time.
Our study aims to reveal the nature of short and long-term symptoms observed in sexual assault victims and to discuss the legal turmoil surrounding the issue since 2005. Materials and Methods : 840 sexual assault victims who were sent by the court over a period of three years to physical and psychiatric examination were evaluated. The results of physical and mental evaluations of a medical forensic specialist, a psychiatrist and a specialist on child and adolescent psychiatry were collected and statistically analyzed. Chi-square test was used for the categorical variables; Student’s t-test for the analysis of the measured continuous variables and Mann-Whitney U test for data that do not display the normal distribution.
Results : 88.7% (n = 577) of the 840 patients included in the study were female. 78.6% (n = 660) of the patients were under 18 and were legally children. The perpetrators (suspects) were all male. 7.7% (n = 65) of these perpetrators were under 18. 15% of the perpetrators (n = 126) were rst-degree relatives of the victims, 80.1% (n = 673) were acquaintances of the victims (relatives, neighbors, friends). The legal process following the actual event increases the secondary effects observed in the patients. The legal process lasts about 3 years and requires the patient to undergo about 4 to 6 medical examinations.
Discussion and Conclusion : It is known that PTSD symptoms observed after sexual assault disappear completely in 30% of cases, improve in 40% of cases, and remain the same or even become more severe in 10% of the cases in the rest three months. In Turkey since 2005 courts apply a lengthy legal process that is not appropriate for the nature of symptoms seen in sexual assault victims. Attending the hearings, testifying and repeated doctor visits prolong the recovery period for the patients. Thus the patients are further harassed.