Date of Conferral





Public Health


Sriya Krishnamoorthy


For the last 22 years, systematic rapes and punitive violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were utilized as weapons of war and a control strategy. This quantitative study built upon the ecological model of impact of sexual assault on women's mental health to investigate the relationship between the health impacts and chronic pain and depression among women survivors of sexual rape in eastern DRC. The sample included 156 female rape survivors, between 18-80 years old, and raped between 2010 and 2014 while residing in the conflict area. The research questions focused on the association between fistulas, other sexual rape-related injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), feelings of worthlessness, social rejection, support from family/friends, and chronic pain and depression among women victims of sexual rape in eastern DRC. Results from multinomial logistic regression and ordinal regression tests showed strong links between independent and dependent variables: Fistula was strongly linked with chronic illness over 6 months (p = 0.003), and with upset all the time (p = 0.033); PTSD was associated with chronic illness due to violent rapes (p = 0.004) and sadness (p = 0.000); feelings of worthlessness was related to prolonged illness over 6 months (p = 0.024) and feeling blue (p = 0.006); social rejection was linked to avoidance (p = 0.003); and support from family/friends was associated with prolonged illness over 6 months (p = 0.025) and lack of excitement (p = 0.011). The results of this study could assist health care providers in formulating response strategies for identifying public health priorities in conflict area, addressing health needs, and defining approaches for reducing war-related sexual violence, chronic pain, and depression among rape survivors.

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