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Disclosure and Perceived Social Support for Sexual Assault Survivors

Annually, one in five women are sexually assaulted in the U.S. Sexual assault disclosure is essential in providing survivors with material and emotional resources. Following disclosure, social support can act as a buffer for negative mental health consequences associated with sexual assault, reduce the risk of revictimization and increase the probability of disclosure. This study examines sexual assault disclosure recipients and survivors' perceptions of social support. The study used data from a larger study comprised of individuals who identified as women and had disclosed a sexual assault in the last year. Women in the sample were diverse with respect to age, race/ethnicity, and educational background. It was predicted that survivors who disclosed to a formal support system (i.e., police, counselors, etc.) would also express higher perceived social support. The results suggest a possible relationship between reporting to medical personnel and formal support such that individuals who disclosed to medical personnel expressed higher formal support. Further research is necessary to come to conclusions.

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