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Examining Sexual Assault Survival of Adult Women: Responses, Mediators, and Current Theories

Hellman, Ann MSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000037
Review Article

ABSTRACT The purpose of this article is to examine the state of the science of sexual assault research to direct future research in three key areas: responses, mediators, and current theory with a religious or spiritual focus addressing recovery. Three research questions guided the investigation of literature and the formation of this article: (a) What are common survivor responses to, and long-term effects of, sexual assault?; (b) What are mediators for recovery after sexual assault?; and (c) What theory with a religious or spiritual focus exists to address recovery from sexual assault? This research identifies significant gaps in the literature underscoring the importance of future research that examines responses to and long-term effects of sexual assault, need for mediators during recovery, and need to develop theory using religious and spiritual tenets aiding in recovery from sexual assault. Further research is necessary to develop this science, expand understanding, and support sexual assault survivors on their recovery journey.

Author Affiliations: PhD candidate, East Tennessee State University and Assistant Professor, East Tennessee State University.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Correspondence: Ann H. Hellman, MSN, RN, 3789 Brookwood Drive, Cookeville, TN 38501. E-mail:

Received December 6, 2013; accepted for publication on July 3, 2014.

© 2014 by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. All rights reserved.