Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Child and Family Studies

First Advisor

Chelsey Holden

Advisor Department

Child and Family Studies


Sexual assault is an issue pervaded with stigmas, whether imposed on a person from a social source or from oneself. Stigmas have shown to be harmful to a survivor’s recovery from trauma (Deitz, Williams, Rife, & Cantrell, 2015) and may influence whether or not a survivor of sexual assault reports an incident of sexual assault (Spencer, Mallory, Toews, Stith, & Wood, 2017). One factor that contributes to internalizing a stigma to form a self-stigma is the anticipated reaction a survivor faces when he or she discloses an incident of sexual abuse (Murray, Crowe, & Overstreet, 2018). To determine how gender roles, stigmas, and self-stigmas influence one another, a questionnaire was distributed to college students via Qualtrics survey platform. The author used the Attitudes Toward Women Scale (Spence, Helmrich, & Stapp, 1973) and other adapted instruments to measure participants’ gender role beliefs, levels of social stigma, and levels of self-stigma. Results show that levels of self-stigma are statistically significantly influenced by levels of social stigma (r = .259, p < .001) and gender role attitudes (r = -.259, p < .001); however, social stigma was not statistically significantly associated with beliefs about gender roles. The results of this study suggest that more conservative gender role beliefs and higher levels of social stigma are correlated with higher levels of self-stigmas that are formed by an internalized social stigma.