Date Approved

6-30-2020

Embargo Period

7-2-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. Clinical Psychology

Department

Psychology

College

College of Science & Mathematics

First Advisor

Angelone, D.J.

Second Advisor

Joppa, Meredith

Third Advisor

Young, Chelsie M.

Subject(s)

Women college students; Victims of dating violence

Disciplines

Clinical Psychology

Abstract

College women are at an elevated risk for sexual victimization compared to the general population. One possible reason for the increase risk of sexual victimization on college campuses is that college is inherent with greater freedom and less supervision. This unsupervised environment may encourage students to explore alcohol and other drug use and abuse and engage in risky sexual behavior, which are risk factors for sexual victimization. Sexual victimization is defined as unwanted behaviors and tactics that range from oral, anal, vaginal contact or penetration where the perpetrator uses force, intimidation, or coercion. Sexual victimization is often conceptualized in terms of severity, with completed sexual rape being the most severe unwanted sexual contact. While some women experience negative outcomes such as developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), others experience reduced or complete absence of distress following the sexual victimization experience. One contributing factor to the variation in post-victimization outcomes may be the victim's intoxication during the sexual victimization, which may affect how an individual processes and copes following the event. Thus, this study aimed to examine the effects of sexual victimization severity, intoxication, and coping on PTSD symptomology. Female college students who reported experiencing sexual victimization (N=375) completed measures that assessed the degree of sexual victimization, coping behaviors, and PTSD symptomology. We hypothesized that coping behaviors would mediate the association between sexual victimization severity and PTSD. We also hypothesized that intoxication would moderate these associations. We conducted a moderated mediation analysis to examine the direct and indirect effects of the aforementioned associations. Results demonstrate that adaptive and maladaptive coping both mediate the association between sexual victimization severity and PTSD symptomology. However, intoxication did not moderate these associations in our current sample. Our results suggest that coping plays an important role in a victim's adjustment post-victimization, which helps inform the direction of clinical interventions within this population.

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