Friday, September 10, 2010

Losing My Religion: A Preliminary Study of Changes in Belief Pattern After Sexual Assault

by Menachem Ben-Ezra

The purpose of the present study was to examine the impact of sexual trauma on changes in religious perception, subjective health, and mental health among sexual assault victims. A total of 111 Jewish women participated in the study, including 51 sexual assault victims and 60 comparisons matched on age, religion, and marital status. The study was of a retrospective, cross-sectional design. Approximately half of the women (47.5%) who suffered sexual assault changed their religious perception and belief in the direction of secularization. In addition, these women exhibited elevated psychiatric symptoms and lower well-being relative to the comparison group. The results of the preliminary study revealed changes in belief patterns due to psychological trauma. Mental health professionals should take these aspects into consideration when treating women who suffered sexual trauma.

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