TRUST DISTURBANCES AMONG RAPE AND INCEST VICTIMS
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This dissertation represents an attempt to investigate the psychological effects of rape and incest in terms of changes that occur in the victim's representations of herself as worthy of her own trust as well as changes that occur in her representation of others as trustworthy.;The severity of the sexual trauma was hypothesized to depend on the following factors: (1) the extent to which the aggressor had been invested with trust prior to the initiation of the traumatic sexual experience, (2) the victim's predisposition to trust disturbance based on the quality of experiences with significant others and the number of traumatic life events, and (3) the specific pattern of trust disturbance. The extent to which trust disturbance was sex related was also studied.;The subjects, 57 young women between the ages of 14 and 21, were divided into four groups: a group of 14 young women raped by men they know, a group of 13 young women raped by strangers, a group of 12 incest victims, and a group of 18 controls who had never experienced sexual trauma.;Trust disturbance was measured by three instruments devised by the author, as well as by specially coded, structured interviews. A symptom checklist, also devised by the author, was used to measure the severity of the trauma. In addition, measures of self-esteem, ego development, attitudes toward women, gender identity, locus of control, and defense mechanism use were also administered.;The results strongly supported the major hypothesis that trust disturbance is an important consequence of sexual abuse. The severity of the trauma was found to vary according to the pattern of trust disturbance manifested by subjects such that those low in self-trust and high in trust in others were most severely traumatized.;The results also support the hypothesis that those subjects with a strong predisposition for trust disturbance would suffer severe traumatization following sexual abuse.;The findings failed to support the hypothesis that the extent to which trust had been invested in the aggressor would significantly affect the severity of the trauma in that women raped by strangers were more severely traumatized than women raped by known assailants.