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NCJ Number: 193653 Find in a Library
Title: Social Reactions to Sexual Assault Victims From Various Support Sources
Journal: Violence and Victims  Volume:16  Issue:6  Dated:December 2001  Pages:673-692
Author(s): Henrietta H. Filipas; Sarah E. Ullman
Date Published: December 2001
Page Count: 20
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses positive and negative social reactions received by victims disclosing sexual assaults to informal and formal support providers.
Abstract: This study described the specific types of social reactions women received from specific support sources; examined how these factors interact to affected victims’ psychological adjustment; and provides detailed qualitative descriptions of victims’ own accounts of their experiences. Survey data were collected from a media-recruited sample of 323 adult sexual assault victims. Basic demographic information was collected for the sample; a modified version of the Sexual Experiences Survey was administered; and respondents were asked about social support, social reactions, and psychological symptoms with respect to the sexual assault. Results showed that rape myths, violations of trust, and revictimization were responses that appeared to be quite harmful, in addition to blaming responses that were related to less self-esteem. Rape myths from family members (especially parents) and police may also be detrimental because victims expect these authority figures to provide protection and guidance. Some of these myths implicitly blamed the victim, and likely led women to doubt their experiences were legitimate rapes. Positive reactions coded from respondents’ verbatim written responses included friends sharing their own sexual assault experiences and being listened to. Receiving positive reactions of emotional support from significant others appeared to be uniquely helpful in recovery from sexual assault. Responses women wished to have received from offenders included apologies, admissions of guilt, and explanations of why they had raped her. Unfortunately, family members appeared to respond with many negative reactions to victims, as did formal support providers. Egocentric reactions from partners were associated with worse adjustment. Other factors that need study are the role of support provider intentions when responding to victims, as victims’ perceptions of the intent behind remarks and actions may matter as much or more than what is is actually said or done. 3 tables, 3 notes, 27 references
Main Term(s): Attitudes toward victims; Sexual assault victims
Index Term(s): Post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD); Rape; Sex offenses; Sexual assault; Sexual assault trauma; Victim reactions to crime
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