Date of Award

Fall 9-23-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Lynette H. Bikos, Ph.D., ABPP

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Keyne C. Law, Ph.D.

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Jelena Vranjin, Ph.D.


Many individuals report negative experiences with the court system after experiencing a sexual assault (i.e., secondary victimization) and this leads to a belief that they are unable to cope with future stressors (i.e., resiliency). Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted individual’s lives and their overall well-being. In this dissertation, I examined a model predicting resiliency appraisals from positive experiences with the legal system, mediated by COVID-19 weekly metric case rate and the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered. Participants were 18 years and older, self-identified cis females, and were clients of a local legal advocacy clinic (N = 94) following an experience of a sexual assault. Data was analyzed in R using the ordinary least squares (OLS) approach. Results indicated that roughly 5.5% of the variance in resilience was accounted for by the model of positive experiences with the legal system through COVID-19 metric case rate and vaccines administered. The direct effect was statistically significant between positive experiences with the legal system and resiliency (B. = 0.191, p = 0.005). There was an interesting non-significant change of directionality of the relationship between positive experiences with the legal system and resiliency appraisals when COVID-19 metric case rate was high, and vaccines administered was low or at the mean. Results suggested that COVID-19 metric cases and vaccine administration rates did not significantly impact the level of resiliency appraisals that an individual reported. However, they showed that the more positive experiences (i.e., lower levels of secondary victimization) individuals had with the legal system the higher they reported their resilience. These results could be due to the relatively small sample size being unable to detect a small effect size. Future research would benefit from assessing these variables in a larger sample to determine if the change of directionality in the relationship or small portion of slope that was significant is replicated in a larger data set to better understand how legal advocacy centers should respond to large-scale stressful events.