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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Attorney General's Task Force on Family Violence (1984). Final Report, September 1984, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
Derogatis, L. R. (1977). SCL-90: Administration, scoring and procedural manual-1 for the R (revised) version, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore.
Finkelhor, D., and Yllo, K. (1985).License to Rape: Sexual Abuse of Wives, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York.
Frank, E., Turner, S. M., and Stewart, B. D. (1980). Initial responses to rape: The impact of factors within the rape situation.J. Behav. Assess. 2, 39–53.
Frieze, I. H. (1983). Investigating the causes and consequences of marital rape.Signs, 8: 532–553.
Gelles, R. J., and Straus, M. A. (1988).Intimate Violence, Simon & Schuster, New York.
Hanneke, C. R., Shields, N. M., and McCall, G. J. (1986). Assessing the prevalence of marital rape.J. Interpers. Viol. 1: 350–362.
Horowitz, M., Wilner, N., and Alvarez, W. (1979). Impact of event scale: A measure of subjective stress.Psychosom. Med. 41: 203–218.
Kilpatrick, D. G., Best, C. L., Saunders, B. E., and Veronen, L. J. (1988). Rape in marriage and in dating relationships: How bad is it for mental health?Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sciences 528: 335–344.
Kilpatrick, D. G., Best, C. L., Veronen, L. J., Amick, A. E., Villeponteaux, L. A., and Ruff, G. A. (1985). Mental health correlates of criminal victimization: A random community survey.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 53: 866–873.
Kilpatrick, D. G., Resick, P. A., and Veronen, L. J. (1981). Effects of a rape experience: A longitudinal study.J. Social Issues 37: 105–122.
Kilpatrick, D. G., Saunders, B. E., Amick-McMullan, A. E., Best, C. L., Veronen, L. J., and Resnick, H. S. (1989). Victim and crime factors associated with the development of crime-related post-traumatic stress disorder.Behav. Ther. 20: 199–214.
Kilpatrick, D. G., Saunders, B. E., Veronen, L. J., Best, C. L., and Von, J. M. (1987). Criminal victimization: Lifetime prevalence, reporting to police and psychological impact.Crime Deling. 33: 479–489.
Kilpatrick, D. G., and Veronen, L. J. (1984).Treatment of Fear and Anxiety in Victims of Rape, Final report, NIMH Grant No. HMH29602.
Kilpatrick, D. G., Veronen, L. J., and Resick, P. A. (1979). The aftermath of rape: Recent empirical findings.Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 49: 658–669.
O'Leary, K. D., Barling, J., Arias, L., Rosenbaum, A., Malone, J., and Tyree, A. (1989). Prevalence and stability of spousal aggression.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 57: 263–268.
Pagelow, M. D. (1984).Family Violence, Praeger, New York.
Riggs, D. S., Foa, E. B., Rothbaum, B. O., and Murdock, T. (1991).Post-traumatic stress disorder following rape and non-sexual assault: A predictive model, Manuscript submitted for publication.
Russell, D. E H. (1982).Rape in Marriage, MacMillan, New York.
Rouse, L. P., Breen, R., and Howell, M. (1988). Abuse in intimate relationships: A comparison of married and dating college students.J. Interpers. Viol. 3: 414–429.
Shields, N. M., and Hanneke, C. R. (1983). Battered wives reactions to marital rape. In Finkelhor, D., Gelles, R. J., Hotaling, G. T., and Straus, M. A. (eds.),The Dark Side of Families, Sage, Beverly Hills.
Stets, J. E., and Straus, M. A. (1989). The marriage license as a hitting license: A comparison of assaults in dating, cohabitating, and married couples. In Pirog-Good, M. A., and Stets, J. E. (eds.),Violence in Dating Relationships: Emerging Social Issues, Praeger, New York.
Straus, M. A. (1976). Sexual inequality, cultural norms, and wife beating.Victimol. Internat. J. 1: 54–76.
Straus, M. A., Gelles, R. J., and Steinmetz, S. K. (1980).Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family, Anchor, New York.
Veronen, L. J., and Kilpatrick, D. G. (1983). Stress management for rape victims. In D. Meichenbaum, and Jaremko, M. E. (eds.),Stress Reduction and Prevention, Plenum, New York.
Walker, L. E. (1979).The Battered Woman, Harper & Row, New York.
About this article
Cite this article
Riggs, D.S., Kilpatrick, D.G. & Resnick, H.S. Long-term psychological distress associated with marital rape and aggravated assault: A comparison to other crime victims. Journal of Family Violence 7, 283–296 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00994619
- marital rape
- spouse abuse