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STRUCTURAL MODELS OF THE RELATIONS OF ASSAULT SEVERITY, SOCIAL SUPPORT, AVOIDANCE COPING, SELF-BLAME, AND PTSD AMONG SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS

Authors


  • Sarah E. Ullman, Stephanie M. Townsend, Henreitta H. Filipas, and Laura L. Starzynski, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago.

  • This research was supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grant #AA13455 to Sarah Ullman.

  • We thank Richard T. Campbell for statistical advice, Rebecca Campbell for reviewing an earlier draft of this article, and Kelly Kinnison for assistance with data collection.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sarah E. Ullman, Department of Criminal Justice (MC 141), University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 W. Harrison St., Chicago, IL 60607. E-mail: seullman@uic.edu

Abstract

A number of studies have identified which survivors of sexual assault are more likely to develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most correlates that have been identified have been at the individual level. Insufficient attention has been given to whether survivors' social interactions impact their individual responses to assault and subsequent levels of psychological symptomatology. In this study, a large, diverse sample of community-residing women (N= 636) was surveyed. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationships between assault severity, global support, negative social reactions, avoidance coping, self-blame, traumatic life experiences, and PTSD symptoms. The results suggest that negative social reactions and avoidance coping are the strongest correlates of PTSD symptoms and that the association typically observed between victim self-blame and PTSD symptoms may be partially due to the effect of negative social reactions from others. These reactions may contribute to both self-blame and PTSD. Implications for future research and clinical practice are discussed.

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