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Religion Can Help Women Cope With Sexual Assault

Many college women who have been sexually abused not only fear their attackers or those similar to them, but often have trouble trusting anyone after being assaulted. A new Baylor University study suggests religion can help victims cope with the emotional fallout.

The study is published in the journal Review of Religious Research.

“We hear in the news about all sorts of sexual victimization on campuses across America. It’s a huge problem, one that affects people over a long period of time and can result in withdrawing from family and community,” said researcher Jeffrey Tamburello, a doctoral candidate in sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

“It’s important to find ways for victims to come back to as much of a normal life as they can, and it seems that religious participation can help them do that.”

Previous research has provided evidence that sexual victimization lessens trust and has suggested that theological beliefs and taking part in religious organizations may be associated in a positive way with overall trust. Baylor researchers sought to uncover how these two effects might interact.

Approximately 20 percent of college women are sexual victims each year, with that number including both violent assault and non-consensual sexual contact, according to recent reports.

Researchers analyzed data from the Longitudinal Study of Violence Against Women, with the sample consisting of 1,580 undergraduate women in a state-supported university.

In the first wave of the study, researchers asked freshman women whether and how often they attended religious services.

In the second, when the women were sophomores, researchers asked them whether they had been sexually victimized within the past year. The women also were asked about how much they trusted others.

To assess an individual’s level of trust, researchers asked respondents the extent to which they agreed with the statement, “Most people are out for themselves. I don’t trust them very much.”

“What we found is that the more you go to church, the more you trust. It’s not just about attendance, but about being embedded in a religious social network and about that being a part of your identity.

“This might help to mitigate some of the negative effects of being victimized,” Tamburello said.

Source: Baylor University/EurekAlert

Young woman’s praying hands photo available from Shutterstock

Religion Can Help Women Cope With Sexual Assault

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Religion Can Help Women Cope With Sexual Assault. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/02/05/religion-helps-women-overcome-sexual-victimization/80811.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.