Regret and Police Reporting Among Individuals Who Have Experienced Sexual Assault
Marchetti, Carol Anne. “Regret and Police Reporting Among Individuals Who Have Experienced Sexual Assault”, Boston College, 2010. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/1168.
Sexual assault (SA) is the most widely underreported violent crime in the United States. Reporting is significant because it is through this process that people access resources that can mitigate psychiatric and other health consequences of SA. The purpose of this study was to describe regret among individuals who have experienced SA regarding their decision of whether or not to report the assault to the police. The Ottawa Decision Support Framework underpins this study and posits that evaluation of regret, a powerful negative emotion, influences the decision-making process. The sample included 78 individuals, 18-25 years, who experienced SA during the past five years. Participants completed a 34-item, electronic questionnaire. A multiple regression model was generated to describe how selected independent variables explain variation in levels of regret. In the final model, the following, combined independent variables accounted for 33.3% (adjusted R2) of the variation in levels of regret: Weight change, the only variable associated with increased regret, was the most significant and accounted for the greatest amount of variance, followed by stranger assailant, seeking professional treatment, and reporting, which were associated with decreased regret. On average, people who chose to report their assault experienced less regret regarding their decision to do so as compared to people who did not report. This research fills a gap in the nursing, psychiatric, and victimology literature and improves clinical practice by describing post-decisional regret. The findings from this study provide a foundation for future research on the development of strategies (e.g., the development of decision-making tools) that nurses and other clinicians can use to assist people with their decision-making. Additionally, the findings can contribute to the development of a midrange, nursing theory of regret.