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A cry from the darkness: women with severe mental illness in India reveal their experiences with sexual coercion

, : A cry from the darkness: women with severe mental illness in India reveal their experiences with sexual coercion. Psychiatry 66(4): 323-334

THIS STUDY used qualitative research methods to investigate the problem of sexual coercion among female psychiatric patients in India. Consecutive female admissions (n = 146) to the inpatient unit of a psychiatric hospital in southern India were screened regarding coercive sexual experiences. Women who reported coercion (n = 50; 34%) participated in a semi-structured interview to learn more about their experiences. Among these women, 24 (48%) reported that the perpetrator was their spouse, 13 (26%) identified a friend or acquaintance, and 10 (20%) identified a relative such as an uncle or cousin. Most experiences occurred in the women's homes. Thirty of the 50 coerced women (60%) reported that they had not disclosed their experience to anyone, and that they had not sought help. Women revealed a sense of helplessness, fear, and secrecy related to their experiences. The problem of sexual coercion is seldom addressed in mental health care in India; the prevalence and severity of such experiences warrant immediate clinical attention and continued research.


PMID: 14964694

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