Experiential avoidance and post-traumatic stress disorder: A cognitive mediational model of rape recovery

Laura E. Boeschen, Mary P. Koss, Aurelio José Figueredo, James A. Coan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Does experiential avoidance predict PTSD severity among rape survivors? We tested a hypothesized model where causal attributions, cognitive schémas, 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)
Title of host publicationTrauma and Cognitive Science
Subtitle of host publicationA Meeting of Minds, Science, and Human Experience
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9781135789725
ISBN (Print)0789013746, 9780789013743
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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