OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

The role of Self-blame in the Relationship between Self-Efficacy and Distress among Survivors of Sexual Assault


Berenice Rosas


Sexual assault (SA) among college populations has been associated with an increased risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression among survivors. Self-efficacy has been found to confer protection from distress among trauma survivors. Self-blame has been found to negatively affect mental health outcomes following SA. The type of self-blame (i.e., behavioral vs. characterological) may underlie survivors’ perceptions of self-efficacy and their associated post-assault recovery. The present study examined the influence of two variants of self-blame (i.e., behavioral and characterological) in the relationship between self-efficacy and psychological distress among survivors of SA. We hypothesized that self-efficacy would be negatively associated with distress (i.e., depression and PTSD) and characterological self-blame (CSB), and positively associated with behavioral self-blame (BSB). Then, we hypothesized that the relationship between self-efficacy, PTSD and depressive symptoms would be mediated by behavioral and characterological self-blame. Women reporting a history of SA completed measures of PTSD, depression, self-blame, and self-efficacy online. Findings revealed positive associations between BSB and depression (r = .28, p < .05), CSB and PTSD (r =. 42, p < .001), and depression (r =. 50, p <. 001). Self-efficacy was positively related to PTSD and depression symptom severity (r = -.27, p < .05; r = -.54, p < .001). CSB, but not BSB, significantly mediated the relationship between self-efficacy and PTSD (b = -.07; CI: -.138 - -.028). Results of this study present the important role self-efficacy has on the perception of the causality of assault and the impact on the survivor’s psychological adaptations.

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