Coping Strategies as Predictors of Distress in Survivors of Single and Multiple Sexual Victimization and Nonvictimized Controls


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jocelyn Proulx, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2, Canada.


This study investigated the relationship between coping strategies and distress symptomatology in survivors of sexual revictimization. Coping strategies were assessed with the revised Ways of Coping Scale (Aldwin & Revenson, 1987). Distress symptoms included global distress, depression, anxiety, and somatization. Subjects were 44 survivors of sexual victimization in both childhood and adulthood; 54 survivors of a single incident of sexual victimization in childhood; and 256 nonvictimized individuals. All were drawn from a subject pool of female undergraduate students. Multivariate analysis of variance revealed significant differences between groups on reported symptomatology and coping strategies. Victimized groups reported more distress than did the nonvictimized group. The multiple victimization group indicated greater use of coping strategies than did the nonvictimized group, and both victimized groups reported greater use of the escapism strategy than did the nonvictimized group. Multiple backward regression analysis found that coping strategies were predictive of distress symptomatology in all three groups, with escapism as the most potent predictor of distress for each group. Coping strategies were the most powerful predictors of distress in the multiply victimized group. The results of this study provide strong support for the importance of addressing coping strategies in clinical intervention of distress, particularly with survivors of multiple sexual victimization.