Responding to Disclosure of Sexual Assault: The Potential Impact of Victimization History and Rape Myth Acceptance

Hanna M. Grandgenett, Anne L. Steel, Rebecca L. Brock, David DiLillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Victims of sexual assault often disclose their victimization experiences to friends and family members in the hope of gaining support. However, a number of factors may influence the manner in which these confidants respond to the disclosure (e.g., severity of the victim’s assault). The purpose of this study was to examine the role of two unique factors—the disclosure recipient’s sexual victimization history and endorsement of rape myths—in predicting responses to disclosure. Participants were 114 undergraduate students who indicated that a close friend or family member had previously disclosed a sexual victimization experience to them. The participants’ responses to that disclosure, personal sexual victimization history, and rape myth attitudes were assessed via a self-report. Results indicated that a history of victimization predicted increased emotionally supportive responses to disclosure. Lower rape myth acceptance predicted increased supportive responses (i.e., emotionally supporting the victim and aiding the victim) and decreased unsupportive responses (i.e., treating the victim differently after the abuse, distracting the victim from the abuse, and blaming the victim). These results have implications for prevention efforts and those working with sexual assault survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2102-2125
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • reporting/disclosure
  • sexual assault
  • sexual assault
  • support seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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