The Effects of Rape Myth Acceptance, Benevolent Sexism, Characterological Self-Blame, and Behavioral Self-blame on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Severity

Roughly 35 to 50 percent of victims of sexual assault begin to suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) relatively early after the assault (Elklit, Due, & Christiansen, 2009). Many victims of sexual assault who are diagnosed with PTSD continue to experience symptoms long after the incident occurred (Peter-Hagene & Ullman, 2015). Rape has serious effects on the psychological health of the victims. Although no study had been done directly examining the relationship between rape myth acceptance and PTSD symptom severity, studies have shown that benevolent sexism affects rape myth acceptance and that rape myth acceptance affects how individuals attribute blame (Baugher, Elhai, Monroe, & Gray, 2010). The present research examined the effects of benevolent sexism, rape myth acceptance, and self-blame on PTSD symptom severity among women who have experienced sexual assault. Participants included 120 women who had experienced sexual assault who were recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Participants completed measures through online survey software assessing benevolent sexist beliefs, rape myth acceptance, self-blame, and PTSD symptom severity. Findings suggest that benevolent sexism and self-blame predict the severity of PTSD symptoms, whereas rape myth acceptance does not. These findings are consistent with prior research and suggest avenues for further research and clinical intervention.