Sexual Assault Reporting and Emotional Distress among College Female-Identified Victims/Survivors

Marla E. Eisenberg, Lena C Gutekunst Palacios, Katherine A Lust, Carolyn M. Porta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose The current study tests associations between reporting sexual victimization to a healthcare provider, campus authority, police, or social contact, and emotional well-being among college women. Methods Data from 2,162 women who participated in the 2015 College Student Health Survey at 17 colleges in Minnesota was used. Analyses tested associations between reporting sexual assault to formal or informal resources and diagnosis with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as self-rated health. Results Significantly higher rates of all four diagnoses were observed among those who reported to formal resources (e.g., healthcare provider, police) compared with those who reported to informal resources (i.e., friends, family). However, no differences were seen in self-rated physical or mental health. Conclusions Expansion of trauma-informed healthcare services and advocacy efforts is recommended to optimally support students who report sexual assault experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-230
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of forensic nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Author Affiliations: 1Department of Pediatrics; 2Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies; 3Boynton Health; and 4School of Nursing, University of Minnesota. The authors declare no conflict of interest. Correspondence: Marla E. Eisenberg, ScD, MPH, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, 717 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414. E-mail: [email protected]. This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under Grant R40MC29445 awarded to PI Carolyn Porta, titled “Sexual Assault Among College Students: New Insights for Prevention” (co-investigators on this study include Lust, Mathiason, and Eisenberg). The information, content, and/or conclusions are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by, HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. Received March 7, 2019; accepted for publication July 2, 2019. Copyright © 2019 International Association of Forensic Nurses DOI: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000257

Publisher Copyright:
© Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


  • College students
  • mental health
  • sexual assault reporting
  • trauma-informed healthcare services


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