Description: Posttraumatic growth, defined as positive psychological changes in the aftermath of adversity and suffering, is a relatively recent focus in psychological research. The addition of this concept to the literature has provided a new, more resiliency-based framework through which to view survivors of various forms of trauma. Despite estimates that over half of all sexual assaults are not reported to the authorities, current crime statistics indicate that 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime (Campbell & Wasco, 2005). Given the large percentage of the population that is impacted by sexual assault, it is essential that professionals better understand the factors that influence the successful healing and growth that can occur post-trauma. The purpose of this study was to further expand the literature on posttraumatic growth in sexual assault survivors by considering this phenomenon through the lens of attachment theory. Specifically, this study tested a proposed model of the inter-relationships among subjective and objective perceptions of threat during the sexual assault, adult romantic attachment, and posttraumatic growth. It was hypothesized that adult romantic attachment and parent-child attachment would mediate the relationship between subjective, or perceived threat, defined as the victim's perception of life threat, and objective threat, defined as the severity of the sexually aggressive act perpetrated on the victim, and posttraumatic growth. Finally, it was hypothesized that subjective threat appraisal would better predict posttraumatic growth than objective threat appraisal. Contrary to hypotheses, results of the study indicated that adult romantic attachment and parent-child attachment did not mediate the relationship between subjective and objective threat appraisal and posttraumatic growth. Thus, both path analytic models were not viable. However, exploratory analysis indicated that both subjective and objective threat appraisal were directly related to posttraumatic growth, with subjective perceived threat appraisal accounting for more of the variance.
Date: August 2008
Creator: Gwynn, Stacy Roddy