Portland State University. Department of Sociology
Date of Publication
Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sociology
Disclosure of information, Sex crimes, College students -- Crimes against, Sexual abuse victims
1 online resource (v, 90 pages)
Sexual assault is an ongoing problem on college campuses, with some projections indicating that one in four college women has experienced some sexual coercion or assault during her time at university. Recent national policy has strove to address the problem through legislation like the 2013 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act. Nonetheless, the crime remains the most underreported in the nation despite policy and law which explicitly defines what constitutes sexual assault. However, most victims of sexual assault will disclose what happened to someone else, even if they choose not to report.
This research examines sexual assault disclosure practices on a college campus which has taken a progressive stance on sexual assault awareness, response, and reporting. The purpose of the research was to examine the determinants of disclosure of sexual assault among a college student population. Students (N=161) at a mid-sized, liberal arts university on the west coast lacking both a Greek system and popular athletics were surveyed. Previous research has pointed to Greek life on campus and popular athletics as being catalysts for sexual assault. Based upon Koss's Sexual Experiences Survey, a 32-item questionnaire, distributed in May of 2015, was used to gauge student sexual victimization, alcohol and recreational drug use, and the situational factors surrounding the students' most recent incidence of assault or coercion. Responses to these situational and victimization questions were then used to explore the circumstances surrounding whether a participant disclosed their assault.
Multivariate logistic regression was utilized to examine the predictors of disclosure of sexual assault. Significant determinants of disclosure included gender identification, relationship to the perpetrator, and a history of drug and alcohol incapacitated rape. Analyses showed that male identified individuals were less likely to disclose an instance of sexual assault; this was also true for those who experienced assault at the hands of a significant other or date. Further, a history of having been deliberately given drugs or alcohol to facilitate non-consensual intercourse was a significant predictor for disclosure.
This research was intended to fill the gap in the literature by focusing specifically on the determinants of sexual assault disclosure on a campus without a Greek system or a large, popular athletics program. Seeking to better understand the disclosure practices of students on such a campus, this research sought to closely examine the circumstances surrounding student sexual assault and how they interacted with the probability of disclosure. Implications for policy and practice regarding sexual assault prevention education on college campuses was discussed.
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Head-Burgess, Whitney, "Closure or Censure? Examining the Determinants of Disclosure of Sexual Assault Among College Students" (2019). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5111.