Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

RaeAnn Anderson


Object: Sexual violence affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men. The purpose of the current study was to assess the effects of social acknowledgement, self-labeling, and disclosure on active coping after experiencing sexual violence. Method: A sample of 174 young adults completed an online study which included questionnaires about past unwanted sexual experiences, social acknowledgment, disclosure, self-label, a timeline follow-back, and coping. Results: The results indicated that there was a significant main effect for social acknowledgement scores based upon label (p = .009). Participants who chose the “both” label felt more socially acknowledged compared to those who chose the “neither” label. An independent samples t-test showed those who had disclosed felt a significantly greater amount of social acknowledgment versus those who have not disclosed (p = .010). It was indicated that those who had disclosed had significantly higher scores of active coping as well (p = <.001). A variable was created combining label and disclosure and found a significant main effect for social acknowledgement (p = <.001) and coping (p = .021). A post hoc comparison showed that those who used the “survivor” label and have disclosed had significantly higher coping scores compared to those show chose the “both” label and had not disclosed. Lastly, it was found that there is a directionality difference of label choice over time. The label “victim” was the most chosen for the day of time option, whereas for the 5+ year option, individuals only used the “survivor” label. Conclusions: Overall, social acknowledgment, disclosure, and self-label was found to be intertwined in the recovery process and have a unique influence on mental health outcomes in relation to coping. Implications for clinical interventions are discussed.