Study sheds new light on sexual assaults

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November 24th, 2010

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Lincoln, NE – Young victims of sexual assault are more likely to be raped or assaulted as adults. A University of Nebraska researcher is investigating why that happens.

David DiLillo, associate professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has done lots of research on childhood sexual assault. He said while perpetrators are always responsible, victims can increase the chances they will be victimized again if they drink or use drugs to cope with their negative emotions, put themselves in risky sexual situations, or have trouble assessing risks because of post-traumatic stress. Now, DiLillo and two other researchers have received a $3 million federal grant to study whether these risky behaviors all stem from what psychologists call emotion dysregulation: people having difficulty understanding and regulating their emotions. DiLillo said he’d tell victims it’s understandable if they’re skeptical, distrusting or noncommunicative in relationships.

DeLillo added he hopes his research, involving 450 women age 18-25 over a three year period, will help prevent people being revicitimized in the future.

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