Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Matthew Price


Sexual assault is associated with increased risk for physical and mental health challenges, specifically PTSD. Survivors of sexual assault experience PTSD at increased rates compared to those who have experienced other forms of trauma. Individuals who experience sexual assault are also less likely to seek mental health treatment following the assault. Trauma-related cognitions are associated with increased PTSD symptom severity, specifically trauma-related guilt, and shame. However, previous studies have rarely examined the impact of trauma-related guilt and shame simultaneously. Previous literature has suggested that trauma-related guilt is significantly related to PTSD symptom severity, however other studies examining trauma-related shame simultaneously have suggested shame may play a more central role. The proposed study utilized network analysis to explore the relations between PTSD symptoms, trauma-related shame, and trauma-related guilt. Networks were created from survivors of sexual assault and survivors of other trauma. Results suggested sexual assault survivors reported higher levels of trauma-related shame compared the other trauma survivors. However, there were not significant discernable differences in the connections between trauma related shame and guilt with the avoidance and negative alterations in cognitions and mood PTSD symptom clusters. Finally, results suggest that although trauma related shame is prevalent for sexual assault survivors, both trauma related shame and guilt signal high PTSD symptom severity regardless of trauma type.



Number of Pages

113 p.

Available for download on Friday, June 07, 2024