Two studies investigated the relationship between hypervigilance, vulnerable gait cues, and a history of sexual victimization. In Study 1 (N = 130), gait was coded for traits relating to vulnerability where half of the sample was unaware of being videotaped (Unaware condition) and the other half was aware (Aware condition) to induce hypervigilance (between-subjects design). Gait was associated with a history of victimization, but only in the Unaware condition. A mediation analysis found that perceived impact of victimization mediated the association between victimization and vulnerable gait. In Study 2, female university students (N = 62) were measured on their victimization history and hypervigilance. Walking styles of participants were coded for the presence of vulnerability cues in both an Unaware and Aware condition (within-subjects design). A regression analysis revealed an association between hypervigilance and a reduced change in walking style between the two conditions. More notably, hypervigilance was found to moderate the relationship between sexual victimization and vulnerable gait but not violent victimization and vulnerable gait. These results suggest that hypervigilance may be an adaptive response that reduces perceived vulnerability in sexually victimized women.

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Keywords gait, hypervigilance, sexual victimization, vulnerability, walking style
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Journal Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Fulham, L. (Lindsay), Book, A.S. (Angela S.), Blais, J, Ritchie, M.B. (Mary B.), Gauthier, N.Y. (Nathalie Y.), & Costello, K. (Kimberly). (2017). The Effect of Hypervigilance on the Relationship Between Sexual Victimization and Gait. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. doi:10.1177/0886260517713714