Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Heather Terrell


There is a significant body of research that links sexual assault to a decrease in sexual assertiveness; however, there is a gap in research exploring how other forms of trauma that involve a violation of trust and security within close relationships (i.e., other forms of betrayal trauma) may also negatively impact sexual assertiveness. In the current study, 310 female participants were assessed for a history of betrayal trauma, as well as self-reported sexual assertiveness. In addition, three potential mediators were included in the study (relational trust, sexual self-esteem, and global self-esteem) to further explore the relationship between betrayal trauma and subsequent decrease in sexual assertiveness. One-way ANOVAs were used to determine that the experience of betrayal was significantly different between high and moderate/low betrayal traumas. Correlation analyses and linear regressions revealed several significant relationships between betrayal trauma, sexual assertiveness, and several mediating variables. As predicted, simple mediation analyses showed that three mediating variables—relational trust dependability, global self-esteem, and sexual self-esteem—partially mediated the relationship between high betrayal trauma and total sexual assertiveness. The mediations were verified using the bootstrapping technique. These findings suggest that the significant relationship that exists between the experience of betrayal trauma and the refusal of unwanted sex is influenced by facets of relational trust, sexual self-esteem, and global self-esteem.