Publication Date

Summer 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Matthew Woodward (Director), Jenni Teeters, and Aaron Wichman

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Sexual assault (SA) is prevalent in both females and males, with approximately 25% of females and 10% to 20% of males experiencing SA at some point of their lives. Social support and shame are important factors that are related to PTSD for SA survivors. However, little research has compared female and male SA survivors on these factors. Consequently, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of social support on PTSD in female and male SA survivors. Sex of the SA survivor was also examined as a moderator of the relationship between PTSD and social support and shame. The study consisted of 342 female and 33 male young adult SA survivors who completed several self-report measures assessing trauma history, social support, shame, and PTSD. Analyses found no differences between female and male SA survivors in perceived social support from family and significant others. However, male SA survivors reported significantly higher levels of support from friends. Additionally, both female and male SA survivors reported similar levels of shame. Furthermore, it was found that family support was negatively associated with PTSD and significant other support was positively associated with PTSD. No significant interactions were found regarding sex of the SA survivors moderating social support or shame on PTSD. Findings suggest that female and male SA survivors may experience differing levels of support from friends, which could be related to differences in perpetrator characteristics. Findings also highlight the importance of social support in predicting SA-related PTSD. However, findings do not indicate that social support or shame confer differential risk for PTSD depending upon SA survivor sex. The current study provides insight on the similarities and differences experienced by female and male SA survivors in relation to shame, perceived social support, and PTSD.


Clinical Psychology | Counseling Psychology | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies