Date of Award:

1993

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Tamara J. Ferguson

Abstract

Researchers have agreed that most rape victims vii experience stress-related symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. There have also been numerous studies that have tried to predict the severity of those stress-related symptoms, but the literature is inconclusive. Lack of perceived control is consistently mentioned in the rape research literature as being present in rape victims, but no study has empirically examined the relationship between perceived control and a rape victim's stress-related symptoms.

The purpose of this study was to empirically examine the relationship between perceived control and stress-related symptoms in rape victims. This was accomplished by comparing a group of 33 subjects who reported being victims of rape with a group of 50 subjects who did not report being victims of rape. Mean stress-related symptom scores were correlated with perceived control scores; also, factors, including group membership and the time elapsed since a rape, were regressed onto the subjects' stress-related symptom scores.

The correlations between stress-related symptoms and perceived control in the rape victim group were statistically significant, but the relationship was not present for the nonvictim group. Also, nonsignificant results were obtained for joint effects between perceived control and group membership, along with perceived control and time since a victim had been raped.

The results suggest that low perceived control is a good predictor for elevated stress-related symptoms. Further research may clarify the relationship between perceived control and stress-related symptoms in rape victims.

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