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Readiness to reconcile and post-traumatic distress in German survivors of wartime rapes in 1945

  • S. Eichhorn (a1), N. Stammel (a2), H. Glaesmer (a1), T. Klauer (a3), H. J. Freyberger (a3), C. Knaevelsrud (a2) and P. Kuwert (a3)...



Sexual violence and wartime rapes are prevalent crimes in violent conflicts all over the world. Processes of reconciliation are growing challenges in post-conflict settings. Despite this, so far few studies have examined the psychological consequences and their mediating factors. Our study aimed at investigating the degree of longtime readiness to reconcile and its associations with post-traumatic distress within a sample of German women who experienced wartime rapes in 1945.


A total of 23 wartime rape survivors were compared to age- and gender-matched controls with WWII-related non-sexual traumatic experiences. Readiness to reconcile was assessed with the Readiness to Reconcile Inventory (RRI-13). The German version of the Post-traumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS) was used to assess post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology.


Readiness to reconcile in wartime rape survivors was higher in those women who reported less post-traumatic distress, whereas the subscale “openness to interaction” showed the strongest association with post-traumatic symptomatology. Moreover, wartime rape survivors reported fewer feelings of revenge than women who experienced other traumatization in WWII.


Our results are in line with previous research, indicating that readiness to reconcile impacts healing processes in the context of conflict-related traumatic experiences. Based on the long-lasting post-traumatic symptomatology we observed that our findings highlight the need for psychological treatment of wartime rape survivors worldwide, whereas future research should continue focusing on reconciliation within the therapeutic process.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Svenja Eichhorn, University of Leipzig, Department of Medical Psychology, and Medical Sociology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany. Phone: +49-(0)341-97-15426. Email:


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International Psychogeriatrics
  • ISSN: 1041-6102
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