Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Wang, Yu-Wei


By using the theoretical framework developed by Schaefer and Moos (1998), this study examined the mechanisms through which personal beliefs in ultimate justice affect posttraumatic growth in female survivors of sexual assault. Problem solving, spiritual coping, and meaning making were examined as potential mediators between beliefs in ultimate justice and posttraumatic growth through a path analysis. In total, 144 female community survivors, psychology students, and other participants were recruited from a large mid-western university (mean age = 29.3). The online survey was composed of a demographic questionnaire, the Revised Sexual Experiences Survey (Koss et al., 2007), Emotion Thermometer (Mitchell, 2001), Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996), Belief in Immanent and Ultimate Justice Scale (Maes, 1998), Trauma Resilience Scale (Madsen & Abell, 2010), and the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (Steger, Frazier, Oishi, & Kaler, 2006). Results indicate that problem solving and spirituality significantly mediated the relationship between belief in ultimate justice and posttraumatic growth. Search for meaning significantly mediated the relationship between beliefs in ultimate justice and distress. Implications for practice and research are discussed. Keywords: sexual assault, posttraumatic growth, belief in a just world, meaning making, coping




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