Social Psychology Network

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Sarah E. Ullman

Sarah E. Ullman

Sarah E. Ullman is Professor of Criminology, Law, & Justice, Affiliate Professor of Psychology, and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Health Research & Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and past Director of the UIC Office of Social Science Research. She received a Ph.D. in Social/Developmental Psychology at Brandeis University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Health Psychology at UCLA. She is an applied social psychologist whose research concerns the impact of sexual assault and traumatic life events on women’s health and substance abuse outcomes, behavioral correlates of rape avoidance/prevention, and the role of alcohol and drug use in sexual assault outcomes.

Her research interests are on violence against women, particularly sexual victimization of women in adulthood and childhood. Her work uses quantitative and qualitative methods to study risk factors for sexual victimization and the impact of rape on women’s mental and physical health including PTSD, suicidal behavior, problem drinking, and mental health services seeking. In one line of work, she examined women’s resistance strategies in rape situations and the relationship of self-defense training to women’s avoidance of rapes. She has done extensive research on the role of alcohol in sexual assault as both a risk factor for being assaulted and as an outcome of victimization. She developed a measure of social reactions to victim’s disclosures of sexual assault, now widely used in the field, the Social Reactions Questionnaire (SRQ, Ullman, 2000).

Professor Ullman has conducted survey and interview research studies on female victims with a particular focus on stress, coping, and social support processes associated with psychological adjustment outcomes. Several of her studies have examined how social reactions from formal and informal support sources affect women’s coping and recovery from sexual assault including their PTSD and substance abuse outcomes. She has also interviewed both survivors and service providers (advocates, clinicians) about their disclosure and help seeking experiences and is developing an informal support network intervention for survivors and their social network members.

Her research has been funded by NIAAA, NIMH, and foundation funding, and she has reviewed grants for various federal agencies. She is currently conducting a NIAAA-funded longitudinal study of risk and protective factors in sexual assault survivors related to risk of revictimization, mental health, substance abuse, PTSD, and posttraumatic growth outcomes. Her book "Talking About Sexual Assault: Society’s Response to Survivors" was published by the American Psychological Association in 2010.

Primary Interests:

  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Causal Attribution
  • Gender Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Helping, Prosocial Behavior
  • Sociology, Social Networks

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Journal Articles:

  • Bryant- Davis, T., Ullman, S.E., Tsong, T., Anderson, G., Counts, P., Tillman, S., Bhang, & Gray, A. (2015). Healing pathways: Longitudinal effects of religious coping and social support on PTSD symptoms in African American sexual assault survivors. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 16, 114-128.
  • Chen, Y., & Ullman, S.E. (2014). Women’s reporting of physical assaults to police: A brief report. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 23, 854-868.
  • Starzynski, L., & Ullman, S.E. (2014). Correlates of perceived helpfulness of mental health professionals following disclosure of sexual assault. Violence Against Women, 20, 74-94.
  • Ullman, S. E., & Najdowski, C. J. (2009). Revictimization as a moderator of psychosocial risk factors for problem drinking in female sexual assault survivors. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 70, 41-49.
  • Ullman, S. E., & Najdowski, C. J. (2011). Prospective changes in attributions of self-blame and social reactions to women’s disclosures of adult sexual assault. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26, 1934-1962.
  • Ullman, S. E., Filipas, H. H., Townsend, S. M., & Starzynski, L. (2005). Trauma exposure, PTSD, and problem drinking among sexual assault survivors. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 66, 610-619.
  • Ullman, S. E. (2000). Psychometric characteristics of the Social Reactions Questionnaire: A measure of reactions to sexual assault victims. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 257-271.
  • Ullman, S.E. (2014). Interviewing therapists about sexual assault: Reflections on experiences in the field. Violence Against Women, 20, 1138-1156.
  • Ullman, S.E. (2014). Correlates of posttraumatic growth in sexual assault survivors. Traumatology, 20, 219-224.
  • Ullman, S.E., Peter-Hagene, L., Relyea, M. (2014). Coping, emotion regulation, and self-blame as mediators of sexual abuse and psychological symptoms in adult sexual assault. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 23, 74-93.
  • Relyea, M., & Ullman, S.E. (2015). Unsupported or turned against: Understanding how two types of negative social reactions to sexual assault relate to post-assault outcomes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 39, 37-52.
  • Peter-Hagene, L., & Ullman, S. (2014). Social reactions to sexual assault disclosure and problem drinking: Mediating effects of perceived control and PTSD. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29, 1418-1437.
  • Najdowski, C. J., & Ullman, S. E. (2009). Prospective effects of sexual victimization on PTSD and problem drinking. Addictive Behaviors 34, 965-968.
  • Long, L., & Ullman, S.E. (2013). The impact of multiple traumatic victimization on disclosure and coping mechanisms for Black women. Feminist Criminology, 8, 295-319.
  • Littleton, H., & Ullman, S.E. (2013). PTSD symptomatology and hazardous drinking as risk factors for sexual assault re-victimization: Examination in European American and African American women. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26, 345-353.
  • Bryant-Davis, T., Ullman, S.E., Tsong, Y., & Gobin, R. (2011). Surviving the storm of sexual assault: The role of social support and religious coping in the recovery of African American women. Violence Against Women, 17, 1601-1618.
  • Adofoli, G., & Ullman, S.E. (2014). An exploratory study of trauma and religious factors in predicting drinking outcomes in African American sexual assault survivors. Feminist Criminology. 9, 208-223.
  • Ullman, S. E., & Peter-Hagene, L. (2014). Social reactions, coping, perceived control and PTSD in sexual assault victims. Journal of Community Psychology, 42, 495-508.
  • Ullman, S.E., Relyea, M., Peter-Hagene, L., Vasquez, A. (2013). Trauma histories, substance use coping, PTSD, and problem substance use among sexual assault victims. Addictive Behaviors, 38, 2219-2223.

Courses Taught:

  • Psychology of Torture & Terrorism
  • Research Methods
  • Sexual Assault
  • Statistics
  • Theories of Personality
  • Victimization

Sarah E. Ullman
Department of Criminology, Law and Justice
University of Illinois at Chicago
1007 W. Harrison Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607-7140
United States

  • Phone: (312) 996-6679
  • Fax: (312) 996-8355

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