Sexual Violence and Anxiety Disorders: Examining the Overlap and Critiquing Inappropriate Diagnosis

Keri Black & Lynette Lange | September 23 | 11:15 AM - 12:15 PM | Room 2591

Most victims of sexual violence experience some level of Post-Traumatic Stress. A majority are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can include extreme levels of anxiety. The goal of the presentation is to determine if individuals with anxiety disorder diagnoses are more vulnerable to sexual trauma and also to examine the number of survivors that are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder after having been victimized. Presenters will discuss whether anxiety disorder diagnoses as a result of sexual trauma are appropriate, given that a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder involves symptoms of anxiety.

Both presenters come from a background of victim-centered care and will examine the aforementioned issues from both an advocacy and clinical standpoint. Issues will also be examined and discussed from a personal standpoint, as one of the presenters is a sexual trauma survivor that also suffers from a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The presentation will begin with this survivor’s story and explanation of how her story can be applied to the stories of many survivors. The program will conclude with recommendations for clinicians and victim advocates for trauma-informed care with anxiety disorders as a priority.


Presentation Objectives:

·         To examine the prevalence of anxiety disorders amongst sexual trauma survivors.

·         To create dialogue about the overlap between anxiety and victimization; before and after the incident(s) of sexual violence.

To be a cautionary tale about making diagnoses and recommendations too hastily; without fully examining the part that trauma may play in an individual’s symptom of anxiety.

About the Presenters