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Sexual Assault on College Campuses: Adapting and Updating Protective Behavioral Strategies

Joseph L. D Kennedy, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Sexual assault is commonly experienced by college students across the United States. There are many negative consequences for victims of sexual assault. To prevent sexual assault, researchers have worked to develop various interventions aimed at perpetrators. Despite these interventions, sexual assault remains prevalent on college campuses. To aid in reducing the amount of sexual assault occurrence, researchers have begun to examine various protective behavioral strategies (PBS) that individuals can use to protect themselves. These strategies have been shown to reduce sexual assault and other related negative consequences in the context of a dating situation. However, there are few studies that examine PBS use specific to college students who identify as female. The present study sought to develop and validate a new sexual assault PBS measure aimed at female-identified college students. In addition, the present study sought to examine how variety of factors, including this newly developed PBS measure, relate to the outcome of sexual assault and victimization. Participants included female-identified college students (Study1a N = 50; Study1b N = 54; Studies 1c, 2a N =422; Study 2b N = 150). Participants were instructed to complete a battery of self-report measures related to substance use, sexual assault history, and beliefs about sexual assault, among others. Factor analysis was used to statistically create the sexual assault PBS scale and structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to analyze the associations among study variables. Using factor analysis, a 37-item sexual assault PBS scale, the Protective Behavioral Strategies- Sexual Assault College (PBS-SAC), was created. Using SEM, the newly created PBS-SAC scale was found to be associated with a lower incidence of sexual victimization or assault within the past year. Various limitations of the study are identified. Additional research on sexual assault PBS and its association to other variables related to sexual assault victimization is needed to continue adding to the understanding of sexual victimization and assault reduction.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Kennedy, Joseph L. D, "Sexual Assault on College Campuses: Adapting and Updating Protective Behavioral Strategies" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI29257178.