Date of this Version
Psychol Violence. 2021 May ; 11(3): 307–317. doi:10.1037/vio0000357
Objective: Previous research has indicated that many undergraduates receive disclosures of sexual assault and intimate partner violence (IPV) from their peers; however, much of this research has been cross-sectional. The present study assessed the extent to which demographic characteristics and victimization history predicted whether participants received disclosures over the subsequent 6 months. Directional hypotheses assessed whether psychological symptoms and attitudes predicted, or were consequences of, disclosures at follow-up.
Method: College students (n = 867) from a broader treatment intervention study completed pretest (Time 1) and 6-month follow-up surveys (Time 2).
Results: Individuals who reported new disclosures at follow-up (56%) were more likely to be women, have previous experience receiving either sexual assault or IPV disclosures, and have experienced sexual assault or IPV victimization in their lifetime and across the follow-up period. Sexual orientation did not predict receipt of disclosures at follow-up; intervention group did not moderate these relationships. Results of longitudinal structural equation models found that although higher Time 1 posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and depressive symptoms predicted disclosure status at follow-up, Time 1 disclosure status did not predict subsequent increases in posttraumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms. Attitudinal variables were not significantly associated with disclosures reported at Time 1 or follow-up. Conclusions: Findings suggest the importance of attending to personal experiences of victimization within interventions aiming to improve responses to disclosure. Although individuals with higher distress are more likely to receive subsequent disclosures, disclosure does not appear to lead to increases in long-term psychological distress.