Service Dogs Could Help Sexual Assault Survivors as PTSD Treatment

Service dog for vet

Any dog lover or owner knows that these four-legged, furry beasts can make a bad day better. While service dogs have been helping people with various disabilities, and soldiers with PTSD for years, these pups are now serving a different population in need – sexual assault survivors.

In late November, The Atlantic published a story about how service dogs are helping rape survivors recover from the trauma they endured during their attack. According to the story, almost 30 percent of sexual assault survivors suffer from PTSD. Service dogs also can help people with depression, bipolar disorder, and autism cope with every day life, as well.

“Experts say that service dogs could be beneficial for sexual-assault victims as well, and may even be uniquely suited to help them overcome their issues with trust and relationships.”

So, awesome right? Right! But there is a slight problem – it’s really difficult to get a service dog. The Atlantic reports that the cost of a service dog is often upwards of $20,000. The only way to bring down this cost is with solid research – and sadly, this field is underfunded. Additional research would help prove (or debunk) that dogs can help people with PTSD recover. Here are some of the hypothesized ways that service dogs can help people with PTSD:

Working with dogs can help people with PTSD feel more aware and in control of their emotions.

Service dogs can boots self-esteem and helps people interact with others.

Training a dog takes a confident and calm demeanor – this helps the person with PTSD keep their stress level in control.

Two beagles

While I don’t have a service dog, I did get my first dog, Daphne (that’s the one licking her chops), when I was going through my first round of therapy for PTSD, depression. My little beagle did wonders for me. Not only did she teach me that I could really, truly love and care for something, she also got me out of my house. She (and now my second pup, Cash (he’s the one with the crazy eyes) are two of the best buddies I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their presence.

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Image: Chuck Hagel

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy! Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.