This study documented the sexual assault disclosure experiences of 3,951 female undergraduate students at four historically Black colleges or universities (HBCU).
All women at the participating schools were recruited in November 2008 to participate in a Web-based survey that included both closed- and open-ended questions. Survey data were weighted for non-response bias. The majority of sexual assault survivors disclosed their experience to someone close to them, but disclosure to formal supports, particularly law enforcement agencies, was extremely rare. Non-reporters had concerns about the seriousness of the incident and their privacy. On the basis of qualitative data, strategies identified by students to increase reporting included more education and awareness about sexual assault, more survivor services and alternative mechanisms for reporting, and better strategies for protecting the confidentiality of survivors. The study concludes that official sexual assault victimization data are of limited utility in conveying the extent of sexual assault among HBCU students. Efforts to increase reporting, such as peer education and enhanced confidentiality procedures, are needed. (Publisher abstract modified)