Title

Interpreting and Defensively Responding to Threat: Examining Appraisals and Coping With Acquaintance Sexual Aggression

Publication Date

2000

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Resistance and prevention programming aimed at strengthening women's ability to protect themselves against acquaintance sexual aggression has lacked attention to the cognitive and emotional processes women engage in when encountering such threats. Building upon current theory related to cognitive appraisal and coping processes, this study applies a theoretical model of how women evaluate and respond to sexual aggression by male acquaintances. Two hundred and two college women who had been sexually victimized by male acquaintances responded to a questionnaire that assessed their cognitive appraisals of and emotional and behavioral responses to the incident, in addition to aggression characteristics. Path analytic regression analyses examined theorized relationships among primary and secondary appraisal and emotional response variables in addition to their collective prediction of behavioral responding. The hypothesized model accounted for significant variance in behavioral responding and indicated different patterns of appraisals, emotions, and aggression characteristics predicting women's assertive and diplomatic behavioral responses to their assaults. These findings are consistent with research and theory related to individuals' appraisal of and coping with threatening events. Theoretical and intervention implications for resistance and prevention efforts are discussed.

Publication Title

Violence and Victims

Volume

15

Issue

2

First Page

187

Last Page

208

Version

pre-print, post-print

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