Title

Being a “Victim” or a “Survivor” and its Potential Outcomes

Presenter Information

Shania ColeFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

Clinical Psychology

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Marie Karlsson, Ph.D.

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Many agree that sexual assault is a common problem, but there is less agreement regarding how to label individuals who experience sexual assault. Most research has examined the connotations associated with the labels, most of which has associated “victim” with negative connotations and “survivor” with positive adjectives. Few studies empirically examine how individuals of sexual assault respond to these labels and how the labels relate to outcomes in these individuals’ lives. Unfortunately, individuals who have experienced an unwanted sexual encounter are at higher risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Understanding how these individuals label themselves, and how the labels relate to possible outcomes associated with sexual assault, is important to improve outcomes for these individuals. The current study sought to examine what label (i.e., victim or survivor) individuals who have experienced an unwanted sexual encounter prefer, and how this label predicts PTSD symptom severity. Participants, who were recruited from SONA and other online formats, included 114 females (Mage = 25.46, SD = 9.95; 86% White). Results revealed that individuals in this sample identified as both “victims” (N = 60) and “survivors” (N = 54). Results of an ANCOVA indicated significant differences in PTSD symptom severity between individuals who labeled themselves as victims compared to those who labeled themselves as survivors (F(1,111) = 1.20, p = .275). These results suggest that regardless of what label the individual identifies with, the outcomes of the traumatic event, specifically with PTSD symptomology, will not be affected. Implications and future directions will be discussed.

Spring Scholars Week 2019 Event

Psychology: Completed Projects

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Being a “Victim” or a “Survivor” and its Potential Outcomes

Many agree that sexual assault is a common problem, but there is less agreement regarding how to label individuals who experience sexual assault. Most research has examined the connotations associated with the labels, most of which has associated “victim” with negative connotations and “survivor” with positive adjectives. Few studies empirically examine how individuals of sexual assault respond to these labels and how the labels relate to outcomes in these individuals’ lives. Unfortunately, individuals who have experienced an unwanted sexual encounter are at higher risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Understanding how these individuals label themselves, and how the labels relate to possible outcomes associated with sexual assault, is important to improve outcomes for these individuals. The current study sought to examine what label (i.e., victim or survivor) individuals who have experienced an unwanted sexual encounter prefer, and how this label predicts PTSD symptom severity. Participants, who were recruited from SONA and other online formats, included 114 females (Mage = 25.46, SD = 9.95; 86% White). Results revealed that individuals in this sample identified as both “victims” (N = 60) and “survivors” (N = 54). Results of an ANCOVA indicated significant differences in PTSD symptom severity between individuals who labeled themselves as victims compared to those who labeled themselves as survivors (F(1,111) = 1.20, p = .275). These results suggest that regardless of what label the individual identifies with, the outcomes of the traumatic event, specifically with PTSD symptomology, will not be affected. Implications and future directions will be discussed.