Publication Date

2014-04-30

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2016-04-30

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2014-03-31

First Committee Member

Brian D. Doss

Second Committee Member

Kiara Timpano

Third Committee Member

Blaine Fowers

Abstract

Though likely underreported, the rates of child sexual assault (CSA) and adult sexual assault (ASA) among women are staggering: CSA = 25.3%, ASA = 17%-22%. Women with a history of either CSA or ASA are at increased risk for mental health difficulties, as well as dysfunction in romantic relationships. However, existing research has yet to examine both types of sexual assault history within one model. Further, gaps in the current literature exist in understanding how sexual assault history impacts the woman’s and her partner’s current relationship functioning. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to examine the mechanisms through which a history of CSA and/or ASA is associated with relationship functioning. Women’s mental health, emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy were examined as potential mechanisms through which CSA and ASA may impact relationship satisfaction. Results indicated that emotional intimacy, but not mental health or sexual intimacy, mediated the association of women’s CSA and ASA with both women’s and men’s relationship satisfaction. Considerations and implications for the study of couple functioning among women with a history of sexual assault are discussed.

Keywords

Sexual Assault; Couple; Relationship Functioning; Intimacy

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