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40 Percent Of Women With Severe Mental Illness Are Victim of Rape Or Attempted Rape: Study

Update Date: Sep 04, 2014 11:03 AM EDT

Women with severe mental illness are up to five times more likely than the general population to be the victims of a sexual assault, according to a new study. They study also revealed that they are two to three times more likely to suffer domestic violence as well. 

The study found that 40 percent of women surveyed with severe mental illness had suffered rape or attempted rape in adulthood. According to the study, 53 percent of these women had attempted suicide as a result. 

In the general, 7 percent of women had been victims of rape of whom around 3 percent attempted suicide. 

Researchers surveyed 303 randomly-recruited psychiatric outpatients, 60 percent of them diagnosed with schizophrenia. 

"The number of rape victims among women with severe mental illness is staggering," said lead author Dr Hind Khalifeh of UCL's Division of Psychiatry, in the press release. "At the time of the survey, 10% had experienced sexual assault in the past year, showing that the problems continue throughout adulthood. Considering the high rate of suicide attempts among rape victims in this group, clinicians assessing people after a suicide attempt should consider asking them if they have been sexually assaulted. Currently this is not done and so patients may miss opportunities to receive specialist support."

"Most domestic violence prevention policies for adults focus on partner violence, but this study shows that interventions for psychiatric patients also need to target family violence," added Dr Khalifeh.

The study has been published in the Psychological Medicine. 

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