RISK AND RESILIENCE FACTORS FOR NEGATIVE EMOTIONAL OUTCOMES FOLLOWING ALCOHOL-INVOLVED SEXUAL ASSAULT: A FOCUS ON SELF-COMPASSION
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My dissertation explores risk and resilience factors in the association between alcohol-involved sexual assault (AISA; when the survivor was intoxicated) and negative emotional outcomes, focusing on self-compassion. The cognitive model of trauma posits internal, negative, stable appraisals explain the link between AISA and negative emotional outcomes. Socio-cultural stigma (e.g., rape myths) may increase risk of developing such appraisals, including fear of self-compassion (FOSC), self-blame, and shame, and prevent use of protective self-compassionate appraisals. I explored components of self-compassion (i.e., high self-caring, low self-coldness) as attenuating and/or counteracting resilience factors in the association between AISA and negative emotional outcomes among (N = 785) undergraduate drinkers (Study 1). High self-caring and low self-coldness counteracted the adverse effects of AISA on anxiety and depression, suggesting increasing self-caring and reducing self-coldness may offset the adverse effects of AISA on emotional outcomes. I also compared six nested confirmatory factor analysis models of the Self Compassion Scale (SCS; Neff, 2003b), using N=1158 Canadian undergraduates (Study 2). Results best supported a two-factor hierarchical model. Estimating latent self-caring and self-coldness variables with structural equation modelling (SEM) and avoiding single scores is recommended. Using SEM, I then tested shame, self-coldness, self-caring, FOSC, and characterological (CSB) and behavioural self-blame (BSB) as mechanisms linking AISA and PTSD, anxiety, and depression symptoms, respectively (Study 3). Among a community sample of younger adults (N = 409), shame emerged as the strongest mediator linking AISA with all outcomes. FOSC also partially mediated the AISA-PTSD symptom association, self-coldness partially mediated the AISA-anxiety symptom association, and CSB fully mediated the AISA-depression symptom association. Avoidance-based processes, ruminative-/worry-based cognitions, and negative self-evaluative cognitions may be distinctly relevant for AISA-related PTSD, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, respectively, along with shame. Study 4 qualitatively explored eight AISA survivors’ lived experiences. Thematic analyses revealed three interrelated themes: 1) negative emotional outcomes of AISA, 2) internalized self-blame, low self-compassion, FOSC, and pre-existing maladaptive tendencies as risk factors, and 3) resisting self-blame and facilitating self-compassion by living by one’s values and challenging FOSC, as resilience factors. AISA survivors may benefit from interventions targeting shame, self-blame, low self-compassion, and FOSC, and acknowledging socio-cultural AISA-specific stigma.