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Violence Vict. 1993 Summer;8(2):91-104.

Sexual aggression by an acquaintance: methods of coping and later psychological adjustment.

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University of Vermont.


The main purpose of the present study was to determine if methods of coping with sexual aggression by acquaintances were associated with psychological adjustment beyond what could be predicted by characteristics of the attack itself and beyond what could be predicted by methods of coping used to deal with other stressors. Out of 401 undergraduate women respondents (mean age = 19), 106 or 26% had been victims of sexual aggression by an acquaintance since the age of 16. Two years on average after the assault, these women reported more psychological problems on the Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis & Spencer, 1982) than a comparison group who had not been assaulted since age 16. Respondents who had survived sexual aggression were asked to indicate on the Coping Strategies Inventory the methods they had used to cope with this experience and the methods they had used to cope with a separate nonsexual stressful event which also had occurred since age 16. Multiple regression analyses indicated that disengagement methods of coping with sexual aggression per se accounted for unique variance in general psychological distress as measured by the Global Severity Index of the Brief Symptom Inventory and in posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms as measured by a DSM-III-R derived checklist.

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