Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Communication

Advisor

Lynne M. Webb

Committee Member

Patricia Amason

Second Committee Member

Robert M. Brady

Abstract

Sexual assault is a serious health issue for college women. Unfortunately, the results of previous research revealed that intervention programs designed for women have been largely ineffective at changing women's attitudes, knowledge, and victimization concerning sexual assault. The purpose of the present investigation was to identify forms of persuasive evidence that women report as having changed their attitudes, knowledge, and behavior concerning sexual assault. Focus groups were used to identify common themes college women use to explain their understandings of these topics. These focus groups discussed how close family members impacted their behaviors concerning sexual assault, how they gained their knowledge of sexual assault through first-hand narratives, and how their attitudes reflected a strong belief in traditional gender roles. Each of the reviewed theories proved useful in interpreting the results of the study. This study concluded that parents should be given more education about sexual assault and that women should have more opportunity to participate in sexual assault prevention programs. Implications of these findings for the creation of future interventions are discussed.

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