Sexual violence and Australian women: A longitudinal analysis of psychosocial and behavioral outcomes

Robyn Brunton, Rachel Dryer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale: Sexual violence (SV) is associated with adverse psychosocial and behavioural outcomes with revictimization likely. However, there are significant gaps in the current literature in regard to (a) whether over time women's levels of distress/behaviour change, and (b) whether social support mediates the relationship between SV and adverse outcomes. Methods and results: This study aimed to address these two issues by analysing data from the Australian Longitudinal Women's Health Survey, surveys 4 (2006) to 8 (2018). Using repeated-measures data analytic procedures we found that women who had suffered SV, in comparison to women with no SV history, had greater anxiety, depression, stress, a lower mental health-related quality of life and less life satisfaction. Moreover, their level of distress remained higher at all time points, in comparison to the other group. Women with a SV history were also more likely to suffer re-victimization, consume more cigarettes and illicit drugs than other women. Moreover, SV predicted all psychosocial outcomes (except life satisfaction) 12 years later, with social support mediating these relationships. SV predicted drug status; however social support did not mediate this relationship. Conclusions: These findings suggest that for women who have experienced SV their distress levels remain elevated. The findings also provide additional insights into the long-term impact of SV in Australian women with social support being identified as a resource that may assist in reducing some of the negative psychological outcomes associated with SV.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114334
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date20 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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