Experiental avoidance and post-traumatic stress disorder: A cognitive mediation model of rape recovery

L. E. Boeschen, M. P. Koss, A. J. Figueredo, J. A. Coan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Does experiential avoidance predict PTSD severity among rape survivors? We tested a hypothesized model where causal attributions, cognitive schemas, and memory characteristics mediated the relationship between experiential avoidance and PTSD. Experiential avoidance was measured as a cognitive coping strategy; women scoring high on this measure did not try to integrate or make meaning of their rape experiences, but rather attempted to block out memories of their rapes or minimize or rationalize their rape experiences in some way. Data were cross-sectional. Participants were rape survivors (N = 139; 23% with current PTSD). Results included a measurement model of social cognitive factors and PTSD and the structural model. Two sets of pathways were delineated, both exacerbated PTSD. Overall, 60% of the variance in PTSD was explained. The results suggested that the effects of experiential avoidance on psychological outcomes were detrimental, but small. Re-experiencing was the only memory characteristic to mediate the rape-PTSD relationship. Causal attributions and maladaptive belief changes were far more powerful than any other predictors in explaining prolonged distress. Neither was strongly affected by levels of avoidance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-245
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Experiential avoidance
  • Mediators
  • PTSD
  • Rape
  • Recovery
  • Sexual assault
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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