Sexual Revictimization: A Routine Activity Theory Explanation

Elizabeth Culatta, Jody Clay-Warner, Kaitlin M. Boyle, Assaf Oshri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Research has shown that victims of sexual assault are at a significant risk of revictimization. We use routine activity theory to predict how sexual victimization in adolescence relates to depression, substance use, and ultimately revictimization as a young adult. We frame our research within routine activity theory and predict that sexual victimization increases substance use and depressive symptoms, both of which increase the likelihood of revictimization. We test the hypotheses with three waves of data from the Longitudinal Study of Violence Against Women. Using structural equation modeling, we examine the direct and indirect effects of previous sexual victimization, depressive symptoms, and substance use on the odds of victimization during the sophomore year of college. Results suggest that sexual victimization during the sophomore year of college is predicted directly by previous sexual victimization and also indirectly through depressive symptomology, though not substance use. Although understudied in the literature, depression is shown to mediate the relationship between victimization and revictimization, and this finding is consistent with routine activity theory, as well as the state dependence perspective on revictimization. Our findings suggest that depressive symptoms, a long acknowledged consequence of sexual victimization, should also be understood as a source of revictimization risk, indicating the importance of depression screening and intervention for decreasing sexual victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2800-2824
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number15-16
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • depression
  • revictimization
  • routine activity theory
  • sexual victimization
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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