Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Christina Hassija


According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (Morgan & Oudekerk, 2019), sexual assault is defined as an act or attempted act of unwanted sexual violence. The psychological consequences following an assault can lead to a number of negative mental health outcomes, such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reported that 22.2% of survivors experience symptoms of PTSD following exposure to sexual victimization (Black et al., 2011). However, recent research suggests positive outcomes can also result following trauma, such as enhanced meaning making or clarification of values. Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) refers to a transformation following trauma that initiates positive growth. PTSD symptom severity has been associated with PTG, particularly in situations where a trauma survivor experiences moderate to severe PTSD symptoms. Few studies have examined variables that may account for the relationship between PTSD and PTG. Mindfulness-based interventions that encourage awareness and acceptance of trauma-related emotions have become increasingly popular for treating trauma. The goal of the current study was to explore the role of mindfulness of emotional awareness and acceptance in the relationship between PTSD and PTG. Specifically, we were interested in determining if mindfulness of emotional awareness and acceptance moderated the relationship between PTSD and PTG among survivors of a sexual assault. Undergraduate students who reported a history of sexual assault were recruited from psychology courses for the present study. Participants completed online measures assessing trauma history, PTSD symptom severity, PTG, and a measure of mindfulness. Findings have important implications for enhancing our understanding of the psychological impact following a trauma and factors that can play a role in trauma recovery.