COPING WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF RAPE

Authors


  • Heather Littleton and Carmen Radecki Breitkopf, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health, University of Texas Medica Branch.

  • Portions of this paper are based on the first author's doctoral dissertation conducted at Virginia Tech. We would like to acknowledge Fred Anthony Miller, who developed the online data collection program.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Heather Littleton, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555-0587. E-mail: hllittle@utmb.edu

Abstract

The coping strategies that a victim of a rape engages in can have a strong impact on the development and persistence of psychological symptoms. Research provides evidence that victims who rely heavily on avoidance strategies, such as suppression, are less likely to recover successfully than those who rely less heavily on these strategies. The present study utilized structural path analysis to identify predictors of avoidance coping following rape and examined factors in the assault itself (e.g., force, alcohol use), sequelae of the assault (e.g., self-blame, loss of self-worth), and social support as potential direct and indirect predictors of avoidance coping. From a sample of 1,253 university women, the responses of 216 women who endorsed an experience of rape were examined. Results suggested that sequelae of the assault such as feelings of self-blame and negative reactions received from others are potentially important predictors of avoidance coping. Implications of the results for future rape recovery research are discussed.

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