Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Lester W. Wright, Jr.

Second Advisor

Dr. Galen J. Alessi

Third Advisor

Dr. Elaine L. Phillips

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Roberto Flachier


A survey was conducted with a community sample of 208 women. Participants completed a battery of self-report measures that assessed childhood sexual abuse (CSA), adult sexual victimization (ASV), characteristics of the abuse, coping methods, PTSD symptomatology, and psychological distress. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) procedures revealed that victims were significantly more distressed than nonvictims; revictimized women and multiple victims were significantly more distressed than nonvictims; revictimized women were significantly more distressed than single victims; differences between multiple and single victims and single victims and nonvictims were not significant. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) analyses indicated victims reported significantly more frequent use of disengagement coping strategies, specifically, emotion focused disengagement strategies, than nonvictims. MANOVA procedures demonstrated significant differences between type of stressor and method of coping employed among victims of CSA and/or ASV. Specifically, engagement coping was utilized more often in response to non-abuse stressors and disengagement coping to deal with the aftermath of sexual victimization. Multiple regression analyses indicated that strategies utilized to cope with CSA accounted for unique variance in psychological distress, even after controlling for characteristics of the abuse experience and methods of coping with nonabuse stressors. Multiple regression analyses demonstrated that psychological distress was predicted by disengagement methods of coping, a history of CSA, characteristics of the abuse experience, and treatment history related to sexual abuse. An independent-samples t-test indicated a significant difference in levels of distress between victims of CSA who experienced an abusive situation with a higher degree of threat or force utilized compared to a lower degree of force. Independent-samples t-tests indicated no significant differences in distress levels for victims related to the following characteristics of the abuse experience: age, duration, frequency, level of sexual activity, and relationship of the perpetrator to the victim. Finally, MANOVA analyses demonstrated that victims' distress levels did not differ significantly when considering treatment-seeking behavior in general; however, differences were apparent when examining treatment seeking related to the abuse. Specifically, those who had received treatment for abuse were significantly more distressed than victims who had not received treatment. Implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access