Murray State Theses and Dissertations


Sexual Assault is defined as non-consensual sexual activity that includes groping and rape. Based on previous research, a large number of people experience sexual assault, which results in trauma and post-traumatic stress. In order to mediate the stress, people try to cope and seek help to manage the distress and trauma stress. Following the assault, people adopt the identity of or are viewed as victim/survivor. This study investigated the difference between sexual assault label, victim or survivor, in terms of coping strategies, approach or avoidant, and help-seeking behaviors. The study was conducted by administering a survey via Amazon’s Mturk. A total of 240 participants consented and provided data about their preferred identity label (victim or survivor), their coping strategies and help-seeking behaviors. Overall, there were no significant differences between help-seeking and coping strategies among people who identify as victims or survivors of sexual assault. These finding could lead to a better understanding for the clinicians as the perceptions about the assault label does not interfere help-seeking or coping among this sample. Rather the focus should primarily be on promoting healthy coping and increasing help-seeking.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

Sexual Assault, Labels, Victim, Survivor, Help-seeking, Coping

Committee Chair

Esther Malm

Committee Member

Jana Hackathorn

Committee Member

Michael Bordieri

Committee Member

Alexandra Hendley

Document Type