What factors predict women's disclosure of sexual assault to mental health professionals?



Although many sexual assault survivors seek support from mental health sources for adverse psychological symptoms due to sexual assault, many do not. A diverse sample of adult sexual assault survivors was surveyed about their sexual assault experiences, social reactions received when disclosing assault, attributions of blame, coping strategies, and psychological symptomatology. Statistical analyses were run to identify demographic, assault, and postassault factors differentiating women who disclosed from those who did not disclose sexual assault to mental health sources. Both demographic (race, sexual orientation, and age) and postassault factors (posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] symptom severity, number of informal support sources told, receipt of tangible aid/information support) significantly predicted assault disclosure. Implications of the results are discussed. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Comm Psychol 35: 619–638, 2007.