Long-term psychological distress associated with marital rape and aggravated assault: A comparison to other crime victims

Research paper by David S. Riggs, Dean G. Kilpatrick, Heidi S. Resnick

Indexed on: 01 Dec '92Published on: 01 Dec '92Published in: Journal of family violence


This study compared four groups of women who reported being the victims of a single violent crime (total N = 47) and a group of non-victimized women (N = 96). Victims were divided into groups based on the type of assault (rape vs. aggravated assault) and the identity of their assailant (husband vs. stranger). The groups were compared on measures of psychological functioning and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Crime victims reported higher levels of psychological distress than did the non-victimized women across a variety of symptom areas. There were no group differences among the four victim groups on any of the measures. Women assaulted by their husbands were more likely to report that the assault was one of a series of similar attacks. Victims of aggravated assault were more likely than rape victims to report that they feared for their lives during the assault. Results are discussed with respect to societal views on the comparative severity of marital and stranger assaults.