Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Joshua Sandry

Committee Member

Sarah Lowe

Committee Member

Kate Walsh

Committee Member

Daniel Simonet


Sexual assault is highly prevalent on college campuses in the United States (U.S.), such that college students are at high risk for sexual victimization. Furthermore, while the disclosure rates to informal sources are more prevalent, disclosure to formal sources (e.g., legal authorities and university staff) and mental health service use of college students who have experienced sexual assault are low. As such, understanding the factors that either facilitate or hinder disclosure and service-seeking is of critical importance. Research has identified rape myth acceptance (RMA) and acknowledgment of the victimization (i.e., whether the survivor labels their experience as sexual assault) as two factors that shape the likelihood of whether a college survivor will disclose the incident or seek mental health services post-assault. The present study, therefore, focused on two aims: 1) to examine whether levels of RMA and acknowledgment are predictive of disclosing sexual assault and mental health service-seeking behaviors among college student survivors, and 2) to assess the indirect effects of RMA on disclosing the incident or seeking services for the assault via acknowledgment. Results identified RMA and acknowledgment as predictors of disclosure and service-seeking behaviors. Additionally, analyses provided evidence that certain types of rape myths are predictive of the outcomes. Results did not provide supporting evidence for the indirect effect of RMA on disclosure and service-seeking via acknowledgment. Implications for prevention, advocacy, and clinical practice, as well as future directions for research, are provided.

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