Abuse and violence

What are trauma characteristics?

For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, exposure to at least one trauma is required. These are determined by the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as being exposed to threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence. Examples of exposures are direct exposure, witnessing the trauma, or learning that a relative or close friend was exposed to a trauma. Traumas can also be encountered in the course of professional duties. Differences in trauma characteristics, along with differences in personal characteristics, may affect the risk of developing PTSD.

What is the evidence for PTSD in people exposed to abuse and violence?

Moderate to high quality evidence found a large association between exposure to sexual assault and subsequent PTSD-related conditions. There were also medium-sized increases in PTSD following exposure to bullying, racism, and childhood sexual or childhood physical abuse. There were no significant associations between PTSD and neglect or witnessing interpersonal violence in childhood.

Moderate quality evidence found a medium-sized association between victimisation from intimate partner violence and PTSD, and a small association between perpetration of intimate partner violence and PTSD. There was also a large increased risk of partner violence in general in people with PTSD. These associations were similar for males and females.

Moderate to high quality evidence found a small association between greater level of exposure to mass shootings (closer proximity, longer duration) and increased PTSD symptoms in those exposed.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 5:24 am, 5th August 2021
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

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