Generally, 20-30% of all people who have had a traumatic experience, such as encountering a natural disaster, develop post-traumatic stress disorder. In case of victims of sexualised violence, the risk is much higher, though: up to 80% of all women and girls who have been subjected to rape develop symptoms of PTSD. The reasons for this are multiple:
- The traumatisation was (consciously) caused by another human being, it is not the consequence of some serious disaster.
- Often, the victim knows the perpetrator. He is often part of the victim's immediate social environment, such as a partner or father.
- Lack of a supportive environment. This is on the one hand due to the fact that the subject is still a taboo. On the other hand, especially in cases of abuse during childhood, perpetrators seriously threaten their victims so that they keep quiet about the violation.
- The victim is often subjected to violence for a longer period. Especially in cases of abuse and domestic violence, it is generally not a matter of one single act.
- In case of persons who have experienced violence before, the danger of retraumatisation is particularly great.
- Rape and abuse are to be considered particularly severe traumas, as victims are nearly always in a life-threatening situation.
- Apart from the danger to life, the feeling of absolute helplessness during the time of the traumatising experience is a further stress factor.
- Victims of sexualised violence often have low self-esteem. This can increase the severity of symptoms.