April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
The goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is to increase awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence and to provide education to individuals and communities about prevention. Sexual violence often has long-term effects on victims, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicidality.
How prevalent is sexual assault?
- Every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted.1
- The rate of sexual assault and rape has fallen 63% since 1993, from a rate of 4.3 assaults per 1,000 people in 1993, to 1.2 per 1000 in 2016.2
What are the long-term effects of sexual violence on victims?
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a clinically diagnosed neuropsychiatric condition that is based on the persistence of impairing symptoms following the experiencing or the witnessing of life-threatening events. These events can include military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adulthood or childhood. Individuals suffering from PTSD may have trouble concentrating or sleeping—a state called hyper-arousal. Other symptoms include flashbacks, panic attacks, depression, suicidal thoughts, feeling estranged and isolated, and not being able to complete daily tasks.
- 94% of women experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the two weeks following the rape.3
- One-third of all rape victims develop PTSD at sometime during their lives.4
- 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide.5
What is Cohen Veterans Bioscience (CVB) doing to address brain trauma such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
To improve the outcomes for those with PTSD, we are dedicated to fast-tracking the development of precision diagnostics and personalized therapeutics for the millions of Americans including veterans who are suffering from the devastating effects of PTSD.
What diagnostics & treatments are available for PTSD?
Although psychotherapeutic (‘talk therapy”) and pharmacological interventions can significantly reduce PTSD symptoms, there remains considerable room for improvement. Only two pharmacological therapeutics, sertraline and paroxetine, have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for PTSD. Response to these selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors rarely exceeds 60%, and only 20% to 30% of patients achieve complete remission of symptoms.
The challenge is that PTSD is a complex condition with different symptoms in different people. We need to gain a better understanding of the biological underpinnings of this diversity, or heterogeneity. This means understanding the brain circuits and molecular pathways causing symptoms so that we can better diagnose individuals and develop targeted treatments with more robust effectiveness for them.
CVB is working to identify the biological mechanisms underlying PTSD and developing treatment and prevention strategies to improve quality of life. The availability of validated biomarkers or companion diagnostics would allow clinicians to predict the likelihood that a given patient would respond to a given therapeutic, enabling personalized medicine for these conditions.
CVB has set an aggressive roadmap to ensure precision diagnosis and targeted therapeutics are a focus of national efforts and milestone-driven research. Efforts to improve research through a better understanding of genomics, sleep, biomarkers, imaging and innovative approaches to clinical trials are ongoing.
Learn more about our platforms and programs
that are dedicated to advancing PTSD research:
Additional Information & Resources
If you have taken steps to end your life, call 911 immediately.
Please use contact below if you are having suicide ideation:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255
National Sexual Assault Hotline – (800) 656-HOPE
National Center for PTSD – Veterans Crisis Line – (800) 273-8255
Women’s Veterans Call Center – 1-855-VA-Women
Learn more about Sexual Assault Awareness month: https://www.nsvrc.org/saam
For immediate help, contact the RAINN National Sexual Assault Online Hotline: https://hotline.rainn.org/
Living with PTSD after sexual assault: https://www.verywellmind.com/symptoms-of-ptsd-after-a-rape-2797203