Sexual Assault History and Self-Destructive Behaviors in Women College Students: Testing the Perniciousness of Perfectionism in Predicting Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Suicidal Behaviors

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The present study examined presence of sexual assault history and perfectionism (viz., positive strivings & evaluative concerns) as predictors of self-destructive behaviors (viz., NSSI & suicidal behaviors) in a sample of 287 women college students. Results obtained from conducting a series of hierarchical regression analyses indicated several notable patterns. Sexual assault history was a consistent predictor of both NSSI and suicidal behaviors. Moreover, the inclusion of perfectionism was also found to consistently predict additional unique variance in NSSI and suicidal behaviors, even after accounting for sexual assault history. These patterns remained largely unchanged even after accounting for shared variance between NSSI and suicidal behaviors. Within the perfectionism set, evaluative concerns emerged as the most consistent unique predictor of both indices of self-destructive behavior. Finally, we did not find evidence for a significant Positive Strivings × Evaluative Concerns interaction effect in our analyses. Overall, our findings indicate that beyond the presence of sexual assault history, perfectionism remains an important predictor of self-destructive behaviors in women college students.