Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Amy Damashek

Second Advisor

Dr. Amy Naugle

Third Advisor

Dr. Scott Gaynor

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Tara Sjuts


adolescents, sexual coercion, victimization, prevention, assertiveness, behavioral skills training


Unwanted sexual experiences occur too frequently in the United States and result in myriad deleterious consequences. The first instances of unwanted sexual experiences for females most frequently occur during adolescence (ages 12 to 17). Despite this, the majority of literature on sexual victimization and victimization prevention programs focus on college-aged females, thus leaving a need for research on prevention programs for adolescent females. The present study examined the effects of an assertiveness training program on the risk for sexual coercion among adolescent females. A behavioral skills training model (i.e. instruction, model, rehearsal, and feedback) was used to teach seven adolescent females assertiveness skills over the course of six group-based sessions. Participants engaged in rehearsals of assertiveness skills with group members, as well as with a male research assistant. Self-report data was gathered to assess for changes in self-reported sexual experiences, general assertiveness skills, and risk for sexual coercion. Observational data were collected during one-on-one role plays and were coded to measure changes in assertive behaviors throughout the study. We found no significant changes in risk in group level analyses; however slight mean changes in the expected direction were made on the majority of the scales. Individually, one participant met criteria for change using the Reliable Change Index (RCI) for improvement in signaling sexual boundaries. Slight increases were noted in observed eye contact, assertive volume and tone, and assertive nonverbals. Nonoverlap of All Pairs (NAPs) supports these findings. Self-reported increased of assertive volumes and tone of voice were found.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access