Examining sexual assault disclosure and non-disclosure using an attachment lens

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Research regarding non-disclosure among sexual assault victims remains limited with primary focus on non-disclosure to formal networks. The purpose of this study was to examine interpersonal factors related to disclosure and non-disclosure following sexual assault and potential outcomes associated with sexual assault disclosure to informal networks. Participants were recruited from social media sites and academic listservs. A total of 240 cisgender women completed an author-generated demographic questionnaire and six instruments online. Women with an insecure attachment orientation experienced higher rates of posttraumatic symptomology and overall wellness than women with a secure attachment orientation. Further, women who disclosed at higher rates experienced higher posttraumatic outcomes and higher wellness outcomes than non-disclosers. Analyses additionally revealed that positive social reactions and unsupportive social reactions to sexual assault disclosure are related to psychological wellness outcomes. Implications for theory, practice, policy, and research are provided.

Sexual assault, Sexual assault disclosure, Attachment, Sexual assault nondisclosure, Social reactions