Sexual Assault Disclosure and Sexual Functioning: The Role of Trauma Symptomatology

Jennifer M. Staples, Danielle Eakins, Elizabeth C. Neilson, William H. George, Kelly Cue Davis, Jeanette Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction Previous research has demonstrated that a history of adult sexual assault (ASA) is associated with negative outcomes, including trauma symptomatology and fear of sexual intimacy. Disclosing sexual assault might be protective against such negative outcomes. Aim To examine the indirect effect of trauma symptomatology on the association between disclosing ASA and current sexual functioning. Methods Participants included 652 women 21 to 30 years old with a history of ASA recruited from the community. Participants completed self-report measurements on a computer. Main Outcome Measures Separate models were performed, with sexual functioning divided into sexual desire, orgasm, and pain during sex. Results ASA disclosure was indirectly associated with sexual orgasm and pain during sex by trauma symptomatology. However, there was no indirect effect of trauma symptomatology on the relation between ASA disclosure and sexual desire. Conclusion Disclosing experiences of ASA could serve a protective function by lessening trauma symptomatology, thereby mitigating impacts on aspects of sexual functioning, such as orgasm and pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1562-1569
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Assault Disclosure
  • Sexual Functioning
  • Trauma
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology


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