Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Sociology and Criminal Justice

Advisor

Mindy Bradley

Committee Member

Christopher Shields

Second Committee Member

Casey Harris

Abstract

After sexual assaults, victims face many decisions regarding disclosure and reporting. Most research identifying risk factors for poor health among sexual assault victims, including assault typology, prior victimization, and substance use, does little to contextualize decision-making and reflective framing among sexual assault victims. Yet the real or perceived reactions of friends, family, and law enforcement can have a lot to do with how victims come to view their decisions in hindsight. The concordance between their decisions immediately following the assault and the decisions they wish they had made in retrospect can have substantial implications for mental health and well-being. Using a national sample of women (n=962), the current study examines the situational influences on victim reporting and sexual assault disclosure. I then explore how these factors affect the concordance between victims’ post-assault actions and retrospective approval of those decisions, and assess the potential link between victim retrospective approval and mental health. Finally, I discuss the results and the implications of these findings for broader conversations about victims’ services, post-traumatic growth and closure.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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