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New study links sexual harassment and assault to anxiety, depression and other health problems

By WITW Staff on October 5, 2018

More than one in three women have experienced sexual assault, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and now a new study shows women who have experienced assault or harassment could be at risk or linked to a variety of health problems.

The study, published last week in JAMA Internal Medicine, centered around 304 women from ages 40 to 60. Of that group, 19 percent reported experiencing sexual harassment at some point, 22 percent reported experiencing sexual assault, and 10 percent reported both, according to CNN.

The results are surprising: Women who experienced sexual assault were three times more likely to experience depression and twice as likely to have elevated anxiety. Victims of assault or harassment were also twice as likely to have sleep problems such as insomnia. Additionally, higher blood pressure was seen in women who reported being subjected to workplace sexual harassment.

“There was a lack of striking differences in the health outcomes between women who were sexually assaulted or sexually harassed,” said senior study author Rebecca Thurston, professor of psychiatry at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, “which speaks to the universality of these types of experiences.”

This new study is one of the rare few to track health problems as related to self-reported incidences of sexual harassment or assault, but the results are clear. More research is needed to uncover the long-term effects of sexual trauma on women.

Read the full story at CNN.


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