Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ráchael A. Powers, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wesley G. Jennings, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bryanna H. Fox, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard K. Moule, Jr., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Catherine Kaukinen, Ph.D.


help-seeking, reporting, social structure, victimization


The majority of research on victim decision making has focused narrowly on reporting to police neglecting other ways in which victims seek help after a victimization experience. Similarly, this research also focuses on only one crime at a time, typically sexual assault, or focuses broadly on categories of violent crime. This dissertation aims to explore variations in victim help-seeking by examining and comparing various combinations of formal disclosure. Moreover, this study compares two distinctly different yet comparable interpersonal violent crimes: sexual assault and robbery. In so doing, this study employs the Theory of the Behavior of Law to examine whether social structure predicts the decision to formally disclose across these two crimes. Using National Crime Victimization Survey data from 1996-2015 (n=3,095), logistic regression is employed to explore formal disclosure, police reporting, and exclusive victim agency usage among female sexual assault and robbery victimizations. The results found little theoretical support; however, results consistently indicated that crime type was strongly related to all strategies of disclosure. These findings suggest that the Theory of the Behavior of Law does not explain victim decision making. Theoretical and practical implications as well as avenues for future research are discussed.