Therapy Alleviating the Relationship Between Sexual Assauult and Drug Use


Smith, Catherine; Tran, Mimi; Cullinan, Ireland; Ramirez, Alejandro; & Zamora, Genesis (2019). Therapy Alleviating the Relationship Between Sexual Assauult and Drug Use.


Research on the consequences of sexual assault often focuses on the psychological outcomes of victims (e.g., depression, suicidality) rather than behavioral outcomes (e.g., risky behaviors) and protective factors (e.g., therapy). Studies have found that after experiencing sexual assault, some women engage in increased levels of high-risk behaviors such as problem drinking and drug use (Quinn et al., 2016). In addition, other studies show that therapy can reduce risky behaviors, such as the use of marijuana (Walker, 2016). The present study examines the link between experiences of sexual assault and increased risky behavior in terms of drug use, and whether seeking therapy functions as a protective factor (i.e., moderator) reducing the impact of sexual assault on drug use. Using data from Wave IV (2008) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), 4004 participants were selected for this study (56% female). Participants responded to questions about sexual assault, whether they sought therapy and the extent of drug use. Moderation analyses found that sexual assault increased drug use, and therapy seeking was also associated with increased drug use. For those who did not seek therapy, results showed the same relationship between experience of sexual assault and increased drug use. However, for those who did seek therapy, this relationship was not significant. Results are discussed regarding the use of therapy to help alleviate the effects of sexual assault on externalizing behavior. Implications in terms of internalizing behavior will also be addressed.

Reference Type

Conference paper

Book Title

Annual Cal Poly Pomona Student RSCA Conference


Smith, Catherine
Tran, Mimi
Cullinan, Ireland
Ramirez, Alejandro
Zamora, Genesis

Year Published


City of Publication

Pomona California

Reference ID