Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Lynette Bikos, PhD

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Jacob Bentley, PhD

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Jelena Vranjin, PhD


Sexual assault is a pervasive problem in the United States that effects people of all genders and sexualities. Due to fears of negative consequences, many victims of sexual assault do not legally prosecute the perpetrator. Those who do risk experiencing secondary victimization. The use of legal advocates during prosecution can help to guide individuals through the legal process and add a layer of social support that can minimize feelings of secondary victimization and help increase resilience in the victims. In this dissertation I examined a model predicting resilience from coping self-efficacy, mediated by four coping strategies. Participants were at least 18 years old and were clients of a local legal advocacy clinic (N = 136) following an experience with sexual assault. Results indicated that roughly 40% of the variance in resilience was accounted for by the model of coping self-efficacy through the four coping strategies on resilience. Only one indirect effect (coping self-efficacy to resilience through problem focused engagement) was statistically significant (B = 0.069, 95% CI[0.013, 0.140]). The remaining variables in the mediator role resulted in were non-significant indirect effects. These included problem-focused disengagement (B = 0.019, 95% CI[-0.054, 0.002]), emotion-focused engagement (B = -0.019, 95% CI[ -0.022, 0.060]) and emotion-focused disengagement (B = -0.007, 95% CI [-0.072, 0.051]). The direct effect was statistically significant between coping self-efficacy and resilience (B = 0.408, p < 0.000, 95% CI [0.277, = 0.540]). Results suggested that coping strategies did not significantly impact the level of resilience appraisals the victims had. That is, if the victims believed that they could cope with the process (i.e., high coping self-efficacy), they had higher resilience appraisals. This result could be due to assessing these variables at the beginning of legal advocacy, when participants could be realizing their current coping strategies may not be functioning as efficiently as they’d like, thus initiating legal advocacy services where they can receive support and resources for prosecution. Future research would benefit from assessing these variables throughout the legal process and how it may change once prosecution begins and following the verdict.