Linking Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to Sexual Violence in Nigeria

The recent surge in the awareness of sexual violence in Nigeria is a welcome development, as any form of violence is a serious public health concern. In 2014, a Violence Against Children Survey reported that approximately 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys experience rape before the age of 18 years. Statistics from Pan African Medical Journal report in 2016 further reiterated that females (93.9%) are more likely to suffer sexual assault than males (6.1%).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that occurs as a result of experiencing a traumatic or violent event and about half of rape victims suffer from PTSD (British Medical Journal study, 2015). Providing a significant link between sexual violence and PTSD is a study conducted at the University of Calabar in 2019. The study stated that 47% of respondents suffer from PTSD as a result of rape, although only 60% believe that rape exposes victims to PTSD. Following the high prevalence of PTSD due to sexual violence, it is important to note that delayed onset is very common and some associated symptoms include shock, flashbacks, emotional numbness and hypervigilance.

With more rape victims recalling past traumatic events across social media platforms, do you agree that PTSD is common and what are the impact on Nigerians? How best can sexual violence victims manage PTSD? Could PTSD due to sexual violence be the cause of the increased suicide rate nationally?

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PTSD is a mental disorder and the best way to manage it is to seek professional help, the long term psychological effects of traumatic events like rape (including PTSD and Depression) can be very difficult for victims to overcome hence the need for professional help and strong social/ family support.

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Yes, seek professional help. And also share your experience and feelings with family or close friends. I believe love and support from them helps.

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Yes, I totally agree with you. Having a good support system like family and close friends is just as important as seeking professional help.

We can not say this enough. A lot of people believe assess to professional help is limited or even non-existent.

While there’s still a lot of provision to be made, those services do exist and should be accessed. Sexual violence is one of the worst a person can face with both short and long term effects. Its something no one should have to struggle through alone.

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