Reported responses to sexual trauma in people with intellectual disability : an analysis of clinical psychologists' psycho-legal reports

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

While a large body of literature suggests that rape and sexual assault in the general population is pathogenic, there is a dearth of literature on its impact on people with intellectual disability (ID). Several studies have reported that individuals with ID may experience a range of psychopathology following rape that is similar to that experienced by adults and children in the general population (i.e. PTSD, Major Depression) but with stronger behavioural reactions. The main aim of this research was to identify the response of individuals with ID who had experienced sexual trauma. This was an archival study of the Sexual Abuse Victim Empowerment (SAVE) project's clinical psychologists' notes and psycho-legal reports from 2005 – 2009 on 295 female, child and adult, sexual assault/rape survivors with ID. It was hypothesised that in the different PTSD symptom criteria clusters there would be more symptoms of increased arousal than re-experiencing and avoidance, that there would be a difference in the number of reported symptoms between different levels of ID, and between the number of symptoms reported by the different psychologists who assessed the sample. Includes bibliographical references (pages 65-73).