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Predictors of Long-Term Sexual Assault Trauma among a National Sample of Victimized College Women

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Several multivariate studies have attempted to delineate the major predictors of longterm, sexual assault-induced aftereffects. The present study was an attempt to extend previous work by supplementing known preassault, assault, and postassault predictors of trauma with cognitive measures. The data were cross-sectional and included responses from 1,213 victims of sexual assault who were recruited from a national sample of higher education students. Utilizing hierarchical multiple regression analyses and a cross-validation procedure, the results suggested that the prior mental status of the victims, the forcefulness of the assaults, as well as two cognitive variables related to a victim's beliefs about sex and relationships predicted victims' scores on standardized measures of anxiety and depression. The relationships were such that the most traumatized victims were those women who had evidenced a history of mental health problems, who had experienced the more aggressive assaults, who tended to believe that people in relationships are not trustworthy, and tended to place conservative restrictions on the sexual acts and circumstances under which sex should occur. Taken together these variables accounted for between 9%-14% of the variance in sexual assault aftereffects. The discussion emphasizes the contribution of cognitive processes to the understanding of sexual assault trauma.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: 1: Ohio University 2: University of Arizona

Publication date: 01 January 1991

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