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Correlates of Postassault Self-Defense/Assertiveness Training Participation for Sexual Assault Survivors


  • Leanne R. Brecklin,

  • Sarah E. Ullman

  • Leanne R. Brecklin, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Springfield; Sarah E. Ullman, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago.

  • We thank Lisa Frohmann, Stephanie Riger, Dennis Rosenbaum, and Paul Schewe for helpful comments. Data analyzed in this study were collected by Dr. Mary P. Koss with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (No. MH-31618). We are indebted to Mary Koss for sharing her data set and for her helpful advice. Material is based upon Leanne Brecklin's thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Leanne R. Brecklin, Criminal Justice Department, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, MS BRK 330, Springfield, IL 62703-5407. E-mail:


Past research has shown that self-defense/assertiveness training may have positive implications for sexual assault survivors. However, little is known about the correlates of self-defense/assertiveness training participation for sexually victimized women. In this study we examined the assault characteristics and experiences that relate to women's enrollment in postassault training using data from 1,623 female college sexual assault survivors. It appears that more violent attacks may lead survivors to enroll in postassault training, especially when their resistance was less effective. Postassault training participants were marginally more likely to have told someone about their assault, experienced less supportive reactions from others, exhibited marginally less current anxiety, and reported more postassault suicidal ideation than nonparticipants. These survivors may enroll in training to exercise control over future assaults occurring and as a way of healing from sexual assault. Suggestions for future research and the development of self-defense training programs for sexual assault survivors are presented.

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