College Student Survivors' Evaluations of Institutional Responses To Reports of Sexual Violence
MetadataShow full item record
Sexual violence among college students is one of the largest public health concerns of violence researchers and administrators of Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs). The vast majority of college students do not formally report incidents of sexual violence to IHEs, but the experiences of those survivors who do report these crimes have not been thoroughly investigated. The purpose of this study was to (a) examine relationships between survivors’ evaluations of IHE responses, secondary victimization emotions, and future reporting intentions, and (b) determine what constitutes helpful and unhelpful IHE responses for student survivors. The sample was 115 college students at an IHE in the Pacific Northwest who were identified as victims of sexual violence incidents that were formally reported to the University of Oregon. Self-report, descriptive data included sample demographics, victimization type, substance use, revictimization, and academic departure following the reported incident. Participants evaluated three different aspects of the IHE response: the first staff member to whom they reported, the response by the institution’s victim services team, and the IHE’s overall response. Path analyses were conducted to determine relationships between survivors’ evaluations of IHE responses, voluntary substance use prior to the incident, secondary victimization emotions, and future reporting intentions. Qualitative data identifying participants’ experiences of helpful and unhelpful aspects of IHE responses was also collected. Path analyses revealed that (a) victim voluntary substance use and more negative evaluations of overall IHE response predicted secondary victimization emotions; (b) more positive evaluations of the IHE victim services team, more positive evaluations of the overall IHE response, and less secondary victimization emotions predicted future reporting intentions; and (c) secondary victimization emotions partially mediated the relationship between overall IHE response and future reporting intentions. Findings highlight the importance of assessing student survivors’ experiences of IHE responses to reports of sexual violence. Recommendations for improving IHE responses are provided and implications for future research and practice are discussed.