Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Elizabeth Lefler, adviser


Sexual abuse victims--Sex differences; Sexual abuse victims--Public opinion; Stigma (Social psychology); Post-traumatic stress disorder;


Sexual assault is a significant problem in our society, and is experienced differently by male and female sexual assault victims. Stigma, or blame and negative attitudes toward an individual or group, is frequently experienced by sexual assault victims and reinforced through media, culture, and rape/sexual assault myths. Sexual assault and experiences of stigma influence the mental health problems victims face after assault, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Overall, insufficient research has been conducted on the differing experiences of stigma related to male and female sexual assault victims. In order to separate stigma attributions based on sexual assault status and PTSD, the current study explored both. Specifically, four vignettes were used: a male victim with a diagnosis of PTSD, a male victim who was resilient, a female victim with a diagnosis of PTSD, or a female victim who was resilient. Stigma was assessed using the MISS and MIAS questionnaires. It was hypothesized that male sexual assault victims would elicit more stigma than female characters, and that characters with PTSD would elicit more stigma than characters who are resilient. It was also hypothesized that there would be an interaction effect in which male characters with PTSD would elicit the most stigma. With 214 participants, significant main effects were found with the MISS, lending partial support for the hypotheses that male sexual assault victims elicit more stigma than females, and individuals with PTSD elicit more stigma than those who are resilient following trauma. Implications and future directions are discussed.

Year of Submission



Department of Psychology

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (49 pages)



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