Research shows that PTSD and problem drinking are common sequelae experienced by women victims of adult sexual assault, yet the role of social support in understanding these outcomes is still unclear. The proposed project builds on the PI's prior research by testing a theoretical model of relations between social support received by sexual assault victims and their post-assault adjustment, including PTSD, problem drinking, and positive adaptation, which is a novel aspect of this project. Approximately 1,832 women who (a) experienced either attempted or completed rape and (b) disclosed their experience to at least 1 informal support provider will be recruited from the local community, universities, and victim service agencies to complete a series of 4 mail surveys, distributed at 6-month intervals over the course of 2 years. We propose to investigate how women's experiences of general and assault-specific social support relate to their coping and behavioral responses and post-assault adjustment over time. Second, we propose to examine the prospective influence of women's experiences of social support on risk for sexual and nonsexual revictimization, and whether such effects are mediated by women's coping and behavioral responses and post-assault adjustment. We will also examine how revictimization influences women's subsequent coping and behavioral responses and post-assault adjustment. Further, for the first time, we will compare these processes in victims of alcohol-related and non-alcohol-related sexual assaults. Finally, qualitative data gleaned from interviews with victims and an informal support provider will yield a new understanding of how social support influences victims'post-assault adjustment and whether there are differences as a function of whether the victim is a problem drinker and whether alcohol was involved in the assault.

Public Health Relevance

Sexual assault is a serious public health issue that affects approximately 25% of American women (Bachar &Koss, 2001;Russell &Bolen, 2000;Tjaden &Thoennes, 1998). This crime can result in both physical injuries and psychological symptoms, including PTSD and alcohol abuse problems (Foa &Riggs, 1993;Resick, 1993). The proposed longitudinal study will examine how victims'experiences of general and assault-specific social support relate to their coping and behavioral responses, post-assault adjustment, and risk for revictimization, as well as whether relations between these factors differ depending on whether the victim was drinking prior to being assaulted. Results of this study could be used to inform the development of specialized interventions to improve sexual assault victims'recovery, tailored specifically to victims of alcohol-related and non-alcohol- related sexual assaults, as well as prevention programs designed to reduce the incidence of revictimization.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
Program Officer
Freeman, Robert
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Illinois at Chicago
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Ullman, Sarah E; Lorenz, Katherine; Kirkner, Anne (2017) Alcohol's Role in Social Reactions to Sexual Assault Disclosures: A Qualitative Study of Informal Support Dyads. J Interpers Violence :886260517721172
Kirkner, Anne; Lorenz, Katherine; Ullman, Sarah E (2017) Recommendations for Responding to Survivors of Sexual Assault: A Qualitative Study of Survivors and Support Providers. J Interpers Violence :886260517739285
Lorenz, Katherine; Ullman, Sarah E; Kirkner, Anne et al. (2017) Social Reactions to Sexual Assault Disclosure: A Qualitative Study of Informal Support Dyads. Violence Against Women :1077801217732428
Relyea, Mark; Ullman, Sarah E (2016) Predicting Sexual Assault Revictimization in a Longitudinal Sample of Women Survivors: Variation by Type of Assault. Violence Against Women :
Sigurvinsdottir, Rannveig; Ullman, Sarah E (2016) Sexual Orientation, Race, and Trauma as Predictors of Sexual Assault Recovery. J Fam Violence 31:913-921
Sigurvinsdottir, Rannveig; Ullman, Sarah E (2016) Sexual Assault in Bisexual and Heterosexual Women Survivors. J Bisex 16:163-180
Lorenz, Katherine; Ullman, Sarah E (2016) Exploring Correlates of Alcohol-Specific Social Reactions in Alcohol-Involved Sexual Assaults. J Aggress Maltreat Trauma 25:1058-1078
Kirkner, Anne; Relyea, Mark; Ullman, Sarah E (2016) Predicting the Effects of Sexual Assault Research Participation: Reactions, Perceived Insight, and Help-Seeking. J Interpers Violence :886260516670882
Ullman, Sarah E; Peter-Hagene, Liana C (2016) Longitudinal Relationships of Social Reactions, PTSD, and Revictimization in Sexual Assault Survivors. J Interpers Violence 31:1074-94
Peter-Hagene, Liana C; Ullman, Sarah E (2016) Longitudinal Effects of Sexual Assault Victims' Drinking and Self-Blame on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. J Interpers Violence :

Showing the most recent 10 out of 24 publications