Sexual assault and partner abuse are major problems on college campuses. While the majority of victims will tell a friend or other informal support about their experience, formal disclosures to authorities are still infrequent. Past research has examined barriers to choosing to disclose; however, little research has explored victims’ motivational goals behind their decision to disclose to various people. In the present study, 13 semistructured interviews were conducted with survivors of partner abuse and/or sexual violence at northeastern universities in the United States and the resulting data were content coded for motivations associated with disclosing. Four major themes emerged: (1) improving emotional or psychological well-being; (2) fulfilling perceived social obligations or responsibilities; (3) seeking information or assessment; and (4) seeking action in the form of advocacy, accommodations, or criminal prosecution. Results from this study suggest that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” model for responding to informal and formal reports of victimization on campuses. Implications of these results for designing survivor-centered college community responses will be discussed.
Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work – SAGE
Published: Aug 1, 2017