Psychology of Violence
Objective: During a potential sexual assault experience, an active, assertive behavioral response to threat (BRTT) can be protective while a non-assertive BRTT may increase risk. However, little is known about how the sequence of behaviors that a woman engages in during a threatening situation may be related to sexual victimization. The present study investigated the style and sequence of behaviors in college women’s behavioral response to threat using a lab-based date rape self-defense scenario.
Method: 135 college women (113 with a history of sexual victimization) completed a lab-based self-defense scenario in which the threat stimuli and situational context were standardized. Participants also completed a comprehensive assessment of multiple BRTT styles and the sequence of behaviors utilized.
Results: Most participants endorsed likely using multiple BRTT styles during the hypothetical scenario. Participants with a history of sexual victimization were more likely to endorse diplomatic and immobile style behaviors and using immobile behaviors earlier in the sequence than participants without a victimization history.
Conclusions: Prior research has typically assessed whether respondents are likely to engage in one type of BRTT. The present results indicate that women often anticipate using multiple BRTT strategies and that these strategies are likely situation-dependent. Further, women with a history of sexual victimization may utilize different BRTT styles likely as a result of their prior traumatization.
©American Psychological Association, 2018. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: https://doi.org/10.1037/vio0000169
Anderson, RaeAnn E.; Cahill, Shawn P.; and Delahanty, Douglas L., "Differences in the type and sequence order of self-defense behaviors during a high-risk victimization scenario: Impact of prior sexual victimization" (2018). Psychology Faculty Publications. 4.