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Háskólinn í Reykjavík > Samfélagssvið / School of Social Sciences > MSc Sálfræðideild / Department of Psychology >

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  • Titill er á ensku The effects of a virtual reality courtroom on victims of sexual violence
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  • Útdráttur er á ensku

    Sexual violence (SV) is a public health problem with detrimental consequences, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Victims who report violence to the police and go to court often have a negative and anxiety-ridden experience. Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) is an effective treatment often used to treat anxiety disorders. The purpose of this mixed-method pilot study was to examine the effects of an interactive virtual courtroom on female victims of SV (n = 11) that have been through the court system with their sexual violence victimization cases. Furthermore, emotional reactivity in relation to the severity of PTSD symptoms was studied. The quantitative results showed that participants experienced more anxiety and sadness and were less relaxed after a single session in the virtual courtroom than before. Participants with more PTSD symptoms showed greater emotional reactivity before and during the virtual courtroom than participants with less PTSD symptoms. However, following the virtual courtroom, both groups exhibited increased and a similar amount of emotional reactivity. The qualitative findings included three main themes; The experience of the court system, the experience of the virtual courtroom, and future usage of the virtual courtroom. All subjects said they would recommend the virtual courtroom for other victims and thought the solution was empowering and could minimize anxiety by preparation and visualization. These findings suggest that a virtual courtroom may be effective in inducing feelings felt in the actual courtroom, which would be necessary to treat distress following a real-life court experience using exposure. Moreover, these preliminary findings should be replicated with larger sample sizes to confirm the outcomes from this pilot study. Future research should therefore focus on victims of SV that have not been through the court system with their cases. Keywords: sexual violence, virtual reality, exposure, courtroom stress.

  • 25.6.2021

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