Rape acknowledgment and postassault experiences: How acknowledgment status relates to disclosure, coping, worldview, and reactions received from others

Heather L. Littleton, Danny Axsom, Carmen Radecki Breitkopf, Abbey Berenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

79 Scopus citations


Many rape victims are unacknowledged. These victims do not label their experience as rape; instead they give the experience a more benign label, such as a miscommunication. The current study examined the relationship between victims' acknowledgment status and post-assault behaviors, moving beyond prior research. Analyses of covariance were conducted comparing the post-assault experiences of unacknowledged and acknowledged college rape victims (n = 256), controlling for differences in victims' assault characteristics, multiple victimization, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Results supported that unacknowledged and acknowledged victims differed in their coping, disclosure, belief in justice, and receipt of egocentric reactions following disclosure. Implications for future work examining the dynamic interplay among assault characteristics, sexual scripts, acknowledgment status, and post-assault factors are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-778
Number of pages18
JournalViolence and Victims
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006



  • Coping
  • Rape
  • Rape acknowledgment
  • Scripts
  • Sexual assault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Law

Cite this