Date of Award

Summer 6-25-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Lynette Bikos

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Beverly Wilson

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Aaron Belz


Sexual assault affects people of all ages and is associated with poorer psychosocial outcomes including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Coping self-efficacy (CSE) refers to how capable an individual feels they are able to handle stressors, including sexual assault, and it is a strong predictor of psychosocial outcomes. This dissertation assessed the psychometrics of the Sexual Assault Coping Self-Efficacy Measure (SACSEM), an instrument developed to measure sexual assault CSE across different age groups. Since the majority of research has focused on CSE following sexual assault in adults, I examined CSE across groups of adolescents, emerging adults, and adults (N = 137) to examine whether this measurement of coping could be applied similarly across age groups. I conducted invariance testing between the three age groups, and then assessed convergent validity with a measure of coping styles. Initial indicators of the SACSEM’s model fit were suboptimal (across age groups, CFI ranged from .829-.841; RMSEA ranged from .134-.153). The initial single-factor, 19-item structure was retained after exploring alternative models. Within the context of suboptimal fit, invariance testing revealed no significant difference in the factor structure between age groups. Assessments of convergent validity confirmed the hypothesis that CSE is positively associated with the use of active coping styles across age groups (among adolescents, r = 554 and p <. 001; among emerging adults r = .329 and p = .014; among adults r = .429 and p = .004) but revealed that CSE and avoidant coping are only strongly associated in older age groups. These findings suggest that, while CSE following sexual assault can be measured similarly across age groups, the relationship between avoidant coping and CSE differs by age. Clinicians may utilize these findings when working with adolescents by crafting interventions that distinguish between active and avoidant coping, as the distinction between these coping styles may be less naturally apparent for adolescents. Limitations include low sample size which impacted fit indices and not controlling for demographics such as race or sexual orientation. Future research should focus on understanding the relationship between avoidant coping, CSE, and age, and utilize longitudinal data to study this.