Background: Sexual assault survivors are a vulnerable sub-population that might be severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet received little research attention during this global crisis. Higher levels of resilience are generally associated with lower symptoms of depression and anxiety and are thus considered as promoting adjustment to stress. Here, we tested the associations between resilience, depression, and anxiety symptoms among sexual assault survivors during the COVID-19 epidemic. Pandemic-induced changes in mood and anxiety were also examined as potential mediators of the relations between resilience and clinical symptoms of depression and anxiety. Methods: At the pandemic onset, 83 sexual assault survivors (66 females, average age=37.68±10.90 years) undergoing treatment at a specialized psychiatric outpatient clinic completed a survey aimed at identifying patients in distress during the lockdown. The survey included a battery of questionnaires assessing resilience, pandemic-induced changes in mood and anxiety, and clinical symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety. Results: Resilience scores were significantly negatively correlated with both depression and generalized anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, pandemic-induced changes in mood and anxiety significantly mediated these effects. Limitations: Due to the cross-sectional study design, a temporal relationship between pandemic induced changes (mood and anxiety) and clinical symptoms (depression and generalized anxiety) could not be determined. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the need to develop interventions for reducing situational changes in mood and anxiety during periods of acute stress, while increasing resilience factors, in order to decrease the burden of stress on sexual assault survivors’ mental health during the pandemic and beyond.
- Sexual assault survivors