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Journal of Traumatic Stress

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Vol 30 (6 Issues in 2017)
Edited By: Patricia K. Kerig, Ph.D.
Print ISSN: 0894-9867 Online ISSN: 1573-6598
Impact Factor: 2.254

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Current Affairs, Psychology, Wiley-Blackwell


March 03, 2013

Institutional Betrayal: The Impact of Abuse in Supposed Safe Havens

One of the most shocking things to emerge from the recent Jimmy Saville Scandal in the UK is how cases of abuse took place within trusted institutions, from hospitals to schools. New research in the Journal of Traumatic Stressexplores the impact of ‘institutional betrayal’ on victims of abuse in the United States. The study explored the experiences of college women to understand how institutional failure to prevent sexual assault or respond supportively when it occurs may exacerbate posttraumatic symptoms, a process known as “institutional betrayal.”

Institutional betrayal was reported across different unwanted sexual experiences; while women who reported such betrayal surrounding their experience reported increased levels of anxiety, trauma-specific sexual symptoms, dissociation and problematic sexual functioning. These results suggest that institutions have the power to cause additional harm to assault survivors.

 

 

"Our work on institutional betrayal has coincided with increased public awareness of the harm inflicted by unresponsive institutions surrounding traumatic events," said lead author Carly Smith. "In describing the form and effects of this type of betrayal, we hope to eventually turn the dialogue towards opportunities for institutions to protect and nurture their members."