Construction and Validation of the Posttraumatic Sexual Behavior Inventory for Women

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Research consistently finds that women who have been sexually victimized are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than their nonvictimized counterparts. Some researchers conceptualize this as an affect regulation strategy, whereas others suggest it may be a form of self-injury. However, no study could be located that comprehensively explores trauma-driven sexual motivations (e.g., to feel wanted, to regain a sense of control) following victimization. This article reports on two studies that aimed to help fill this gap by constructing and validating the Posttraumatic Sexual Behavior Inventory for Women (PTSBI-W). In the first study, a clinically and empirically informed item pool was developed and administered online to a sample of 340 undergraduate women, and factor analytic results revealed a six-factor solution: Fear of Abandonment, Negative Affect, Boundary Violations, Sex as Control, Emotional Distancing, and Affect Regulation. In the second online study, item selection was finalized, and confirmatory factor analysis replicated the six-factor structure in a sample of 476 community-dwelling adult women, half of whom were screened for sexual victimization. Measurement invariance of the final 24-item PTSBI-W between women who experienced a sexual victimization and those who did not was confirmed. Scores on the six PTSBI-W scales were also correlated with related measures in predictable ways, supporting construct validity. Finally, women who had been victimized reported significantly higher mean scores than their nonvictimized counterparts on all PTSBI-W scales and the total score, illustrating practical implications of the new measure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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