Experiential Avoidance Mediates the Relationship Between Sexual Victimization and Psychological Symptoms: Replicating Findings with an Ethnically Diverse Sample
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- Merwin, R.M., Zachary Rosenthal, M. & Coffey, K.A. Cogn Ther Res (2009) 33: 537. doi:10.1007/s10608-008-9225-7
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Studies have found experiential avoidance mediates the relationship between sexual victimization and psychological symptoms; however, this work has been conducted primarily with Caucasian samples. The purpose of this study was to examine whether this model is applicable to a more ethnically diverse sample. Structural equation modeling was used to test a model in which avoidance mediated the relationship between sexual victimization and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. The model was tested simultaneously in a sample of ethnic minority women (n = 190) and in a sample of Caucasian woman (n = 473), with parameter estimates specifying the relationships among the variables fixed to be equal in both samples. The results indicated that the model was an excellent fit for the data, and support the hypothesis that sexual victimization influences depression and post-traumatic stress disorder via the same mechanisms in both Caucasian and minority samples. Findings add to the growing literature suggesting that chronic experiential avoidance may be a maladaptive process underlying the relationship between sexual victimization and negative psychological outcomes.