This study builds on previous work suggesting that many survivors report positive life changes soon after a sexual assault and that those who retain those changes over time report the least distress 1 year post-assault (P. Frazier, A. Conlon, T. Glaser, 2001). The purposes of this study were to assess correlates of early reports of positive life changes and individual trajectories of self-reported positive changes over time among female sexual assault survivors (n = 171) using hierarchical linear modeling. The factors most related to reporting positive life change soon after the assault were social support, approach and religious coping, and perceived control over the recovery process. Increases in these factors also were associated with increases in self-reported positive life changes over time. The relations between social support and positive change also were mediated by coping strategies and control appraisals, particularly perceived control over the recovery process.
Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology
Research suggests that factors such as personal resources, environmental resources, coping strategies, and event appraisals affect the development of positive live changes following a traumatic event. Building on previous work, this study considered features associated with early reporting of positive life change and differential self-report patterns of positive life change over time. The study measured prior victimization and survivor ethnicity (aspects of personal resources); social support (an aspect of environmental resources); approach, avoidant, and religious coping (aspects of coping strategies); and behavioral self-blame, control over the recovery process, and taking precautions to prevent future assaults (aspects of event appraisals). The authors hypothesized that social support, approach coping, perceived control over the recovery process, taking precautions, and being African American would be associated with a greater degree of early positive life change. It was hypothesized that these same variables would also predict a more rapid increase in positive life change over time. Participants (N = 171) were recruited from female sexual assault survivors assisted at one of seven emergency rooms in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Respondents completed questionnaires postassault at 2 weeks, 2 months, 6 months, and 12 months. Results provided partial support for the authors' hypotheses. Participants who reported higher initial levels of social support, approach coping, religious coping, and perceived control over the recovery process also reported higher initial levels of positive life change. Participants who reported increases over time in social support, approach coping, religious coping, perceived control over the recovery process, and taking precautions also reported increases in positive life changes over time. Limitations include a limited list of positive change variables as well as a lack of generalizability to male survivors and non-ER service consumers. Further research is needed to examine the contribution of ethnic differences, religious coping, and various control appraisals.
Effects; survivors; treatment