Underserved survivors of sexual assault: a systematic scoping review

Maria Hardeberg Bach, Nina Beck Hansen, Courtney Ahrens, Cecilie Reendal Nielsen, Catherine Walshe, Maj Hansen

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Background: Despite knowledge about the extensive and often long-lasting consequences of sexual assault, many survivors remain underserved by formal support systems (e.g. medical, mental health and criminal justice systems). Reasons for underutilizing services are as diverse as the survivors themselves, and little is known about which survivors are most underserved and why they are underserved. Objective: To help organize existing findings on this topic, a systematic scoping review was conducted to identify adult survivors of sexual assault, who may be particularly underserved when attempting to obtain services in Western countries. Method: Five databases (PsycINFO, Embase, MEDLINE, Scopus and CINAHL) were systematically searched for studies published in English from 2000 onwards using terms such as ‘sexual assault’, ‘help seeking’, ‘formal support’, ‘barriers’ and variations thereof. Results: A total of 41 studies were included in the present scoping review, resulting in seven main categories of underserved survivors: Ethnic and cultural minorities, Disabilities, Financial vulnerability, Sexual and gender minorities, Mental health conditions, Problematic substance use, and Older age. Barriers encountered by survivors with these characteristics included limited access to formal supports and insufficient training and awareness among service providers about how to best support survivors. Conclusions: Recommendations include the need for more survivor-centred, culturally appropriate and trauma-informed services and more attention to survivors belonging to underserved groups in policy, practice and research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1895516
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 9. Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Sobrevivientes desatendidos de agresion sexual: una revision sistematica del alcance


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