Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Studies


Sociology and Family Studies

First Advisor

Amber Paulk

Second Advisor

Andrea Hunt

Third Advisor

Yaschica Williams


While rates of sexual assault vary widely across studies, strong evidence exists that women, as well as men, face a risk of being sexually victimized during their college years (Artime & Buchholz, 2016; Krebs et al., 2007; Moors & Webber, 2013). The goal of the current study was to examine the association between gender and service utilization on measures of resilience and coping in victims of unwanted sexual contact. As part of a larger campus climate survey, college students who identified as having experienced an incident of unwanted sexual contact since becoming a student at the university were asked a series of follow-up questions about whether or not they utilized victim support services (i.e., formal reporting procedures, counseling services and/or a victim support advocate) following the incident. Resilience was measured using the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale and coping was measured using the Brief COPE inventory scale. Contrary to predictions, there was not a significant association between service utilization and coping strategies in victims of unwanted sexual contact. However, victims who utilized at least one victim support service scored significantly higher on measures of resilience. Consistent with predictions, gender was a significant predictor of resilience and coping. Female victims scored significantly higher than male victims on measures of resilience and the following coping subscales: self-distraction, active coping, use of emotional support, use of instrumental support, venting, humor, religion, and self-blame. As predicted there was also a significant interaction between gender and service utilization. Female victims who utilized services scored significantly higher on measures of resilience and on the coping strategy subscale of self-distraction than male victims who utilized services. The implications of the findings and recommendations for college campuses are discussed.