Murray State Theses and Dissertations


The current study examined the relationship between disclosure of sexual assault and several outcomes that have been linked to sexual assault; specifically whether receiving negative reactions to disclosure increased posttraumatic stress symptoms, drug use, and alcohol use. Females who were at least 18 years old, had experienced sexual assault, and had told at least one person about the assault were recruited from both the online community and a regional, Midwestern university. Results of regression analyses indicated that both positive and negative social reactions were related to increased PTSD symptoms. Positive reactions to disclosure were related to less self-reported drug use, though no relationship between negative reactions and drug use was supported. Finally, relationships between social reactions to disclosure and alcohol use were not supported, suggesting that although alcohol use is a potential outcome of sexual assault, whether a survivor receives a positive or negative response to a disclosure may not directly impact the likelihood of use.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

Sexual assault, posttraumatic stress, reactions to disclosure, alcohol abuse, substance abuse

Thesis Advisor

Marie Karlsson

Committee Member

Laura Liljequist

Committee Member

Sean Rife

Committee Member

Angie Trzepacz

Document Type

Thesis - Murray State Access only