Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Christine Fiore

Commitee Members

Alison Pepper, Sara Hayden


sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, disclosure, helpfulness, trauma


University of Montana

Subject Categories



Violence against women is recognized as a serious public health concern in the United States. The prevalence and rates of victimization occurring on college campuses is problematic and has captured the attention of researchers and campus officials nation-wide. Research has shown that women ages 18 to 24 years old are at a particularly high risk of experiencing sexual assault, intimate partner violence (IPV), and stalking (Breiding et al., 2011). Despite the negative outcomes associated with victimization, many victims, particularly college students, do not seek help for these crimes. There is already a considerable body of literature that explores the reasons why victims of sexual violence do not disclose their experiences, and the barriers they may face in disclosure (Sable, Danis, Mauzy, & Gallagher, 2010; Starzynski, Ullman, Filipas, & Townsend, 2005; Ullman, 1996a; Ullman & Filipas, 2001a; Walsh, Banyard, Moynihan, Ward, & Cohn, 2010; Zinzow & Thompson, 2011). However, there is a dearth of research that systematically examines the correlates of disclosure across additional types of victimization, such as IPV and stalking. In addition, previous research has established how social reactions to disclosures of sexual assault or IPV have significant effects on women’s post-assault recovery (Sylaska & Edwards, 2013; Ullman, 1996b). Prior studies did not quantify the level of helpfulness victims perceived from the sources they disclosed to. The current study sought to address these important gaps in the literature by exploring a common set of intrapersonal and situational predictor variables that might account for the variance in disclosure across three different types of victimization. Perceptions of helpfulness and trauma symptomatology were also assessed. A campus-wide Safe Campus Survey was disseminated in 2018 at the University of Montana (UM). The total sample size for the study was 880 undergraduate women between the ages of 18 and 25. Close to half of the women surveyed indicated an experience of victimization. The majority of women who experienced victimization disclosed their experience to an informal support source, with the exception of victims of IPV. Logistic regression analyses revealed that level of fear, crime acknowledgement, and childhood victimization were significantly predictive of disclosure and disclosure source, although the associations varied depending on type of victimization. Overall perceived helpfulness of support sources and survivors’ level of trauma symptoms demonstrated a negative correlation. The results of the study provide needed information that can help UM and additional colleges and universities develop ways to encourage support-seeking and reporting among students. Results also reveal strengths and opportunities for growth related to campus prevention, intervention, and response efforts.

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Psychology Commons


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