A. de Jongh
E. van de Putte
- Victims' use of professional services in a Dutch sexual assault centre
- European Journal of Psychotraumatology
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- Number of pages
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- Faculty of Dentistry (ACTA)
Background: Prior research endorsed the establishment of sexual assault centres in the Netherlands because of the potential benefit for victims’ mental recovery. In 2012, the first Dutch sexual assault centre was founded at the University Medical Center Utrecht. The aim of the centre is to provide 24/7 coordinated and integrated services (i.e., medical, forensic, and psychological) in one location.
Objective: The purpose of the present study was to describe demographic, background, and assault characteristics of victims seen at the centre within one week post-assault, and their use of post-assault services in order to improve current services.
Method: From January 2012 to September 2013, prospective data of 108 patients were collected. To describe the population included, frequency counts and proportions were generated for categorical variables.
Results: The mean age was 21.3 years (SD=9.8). Most victims were female (91.7%). A large proportion of victims reported background characteristics known to increase the risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and revictimisation such as prior sexual abuse (32.4%), pre-existing use of mental health services (45.4%), and not living with both biological parents (61.7%). Most patients (88.9%) consulted the centre within 72 hours post-assault. The uptake of services was high: 82.4% received emergency medical care, 61.7% underwent a forensic-medical exam, 34% reported to the police, and 82.4% utilised psychological services.
Conclusions: To prevent revictimisation and PTSD, current psychological services could be improved with immediate trauma-focused treatments. Current forensic services may be improved with the use of standard top to toe forensic-medical examinations for both children and adults.
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