Journal of Traumatic Stress

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 69–75

Sexual Harassment and PTSD: Is Sexual Harassment Diagnosable Trauma?

  • Claudia Avina
  • William O'Donohue

DOI: 10.1023/A:1014387429057

Cite this article as:
Avina, C. & O'Donohue, W. J Trauma Stress (2002) 15: 69. doi:10.1023/A:1014387429057


Sexual harassment has become a major social, legal, and mental health problem because of its high prevalence and its negative consequences for victims. These consequences can include decreased productivity, loss of job, decreased income, and impaired psychological and physical well-being. Despite evidence from empirical studies that victims often exhibit posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, some have argued that sexual harassment does not constitute legitimate trauma. We argue that many forms of sexual harassment meet the diagnostic Criteria A1 and A2 of PTSD. Finally, the DSM-IV trauma criterion is explicated, and its relationship with sexual harassment and its effects are discussed.

sexual harassment PTSD trauma physical integrity 

Copyright information

© International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Avina
    • 1
  • William O'Donohue
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of NevadaReno

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