*Note* This scheduling program was not designed by folks who do a lot with APA Style and unfortunately it defaults to listing authors in alphabetical order. We cannot fix this for this online schedule, but the author orders are posted in the order submitted in the printed program available via pdf here.
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Saturday, March 7 • 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Mediators of Distress Following Sexual Assault

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Previous research has greatly contributed to the general knowledge surrounding trauma prevalence across populations, showing that a majority of people have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime (Frazier, 2011). Specifically, sexual assault has been identified as a commonly experienced traumatic event that puts survivors at a higher risk for distress when compared to almost any other traumatic event (Breslau et al., 1998; Kessler et al., 1995). It is unclear, however, exactly what factors contribute to higher levels of distress following sexual assault than other traumatic events. Thus, the current study compared those who had experienced sexual assault to those who had not experienced sexual assault to assess factors that might explain why sexual assault is associated with a high risk for distress. The sample for this study included 1,528 undergraduate students, with 224 students reporting sexual assault. In this short-term longitudinal study, the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) was used as the distress outcome variable in analyses. We selected possible mediation variables including self-esteem, positive personal relationships, and number of interpersonal traumas experienced. These variables were selected based upon both theoretical rationales and significant correlations between exposure to sexual assault and the distress. Following the process laid out by Frazier, Tix and Barron (2004), we conducted a mediation analysis. Multiple mediation results showed that all three mediators significantly altered the relationship between sexual assault exposure and the distress scores. Results indicated that sexual assault may be associated with more overall distress because sexual assault survivors tend to experience more interpersonal traumatic events, have less positive personal relationships, and report lower self-esteem. An understanding of such factors that mediate distress will help to better inform interventions for survivors of trauma. Specifically, we believe that it will be paramount to better investigate the relationship between additional interpersonal traumatic events and sexual assault.

Saturday March 7, 2015 3:45pm - 5:00pm PST