Sexual violence (SV) among women is a significant public health concern linked to several adverse mental and physical health consequences. Though national estimates suggest that more than 50% of women experience SV in their lifetime, recent research finds that sexual minoritized women experience greater risks for SV and adverse health consequences. SV disclosure experiences, including who, when, and responses from disclosure recipients, has been previously studied to understand how these interactions may serve as a buffer and/or barrier for SV survivor recovery. However, SV research often group together sexual minoritized individuals into one category and therefore fails to consider potential heterogeneity between lesbian and bisexual SV survivors. Accordingly, the current study addresses these limitations by investigating SV experiences, SV disclosure characteristics, and survivor well-being, from a national sample of heterosexual (HW), lesbian (LW), and bisexual women (BW). Guided by Ullman's (2010) Social Ecological Model to Sexual Assault Disclosure and Help-Seeking Outcomes and Meyer's (2003) Minority Stress Model, this dissertation examined (1) SV experiences, SV disclosure characteristics, and SV survivor well-being across sexual identity, (2) the associations between disclosure characteristics and well-being and (3) if, and to what extent, does sexual identity moderate the association between SV disclosure reactions and well-being. Using a convenience sampling approach where participants completed a cross-sectional online survey and were recruited from the CloudResearch Prime Panels survey platform, women SV survivors (n= 923; HW= 455; LW= 166; BW= 302) and women SV survivors who disclosed (n=571; HW= 250; LW= 107; BW= 214) were assessed. Results show that there were unique differences in SV survivor experiences across sexual identity groups and negative social reactions from disclosure recipients were uniquely associated to greater symptoms of depression and anxiety for HW and LW, but not BW survivors. This study has implications for research, theory, and tertiary SV prevention efforts.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Diaz, Madelyn, "Disclosure Experiences and Well-Being Among Heterosexual, Lesbian, and Bisexual Women Sexual Violence Survivors" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1840.
Restricted to the UCF community until August 2026; it will then be open access.