This study developed and tested a modified version of the Social Reactions Questionnaire (SRQ), which asked women who had experienced a recent sexual assault to report social reactions to their disclosure of the assault to criminal justice personnel, community-based providers, and informal supports; and the study also examined changes in victims' social reactions longitudinally and their impact on the women's criminal justice engagement and posttraumatic distress.
Overall, women reported significant differences in reactions from informal supports, criminal justice personnel, and community-based providers. Informal supports reacted significantly more negatively across all negative scales (treated differently, taking control, distraction, victim blaming, and egocentric responses) compared to the reactions of criminal justice personnel or community-based providers. Women also reported that informal supports provided less tangible aid/information than criminal justice personnel and community-based providers. Victim demographic and sexual assault characteristics did not consistently predict social reactions. The women reported significant decreases in both negative reactions and tangible aid from all three groups within 3 months from the disclosure. Victim blaming at baseline did not predict posttraumatic stress disorder (depression and alcohol-use symptoms); however, negative reactions from criminal justice personnel and community-based servers did undermine victims' willingness to cooperate in case processing. The common themes that were critical determinants of victim cooperation were sensitive communication, believing the victim, and having input and choice in case processing. Women also felt validated when they received information on support resources and felt attention was being given to their cases. Participants were 228 women ages 18 to 62. The women's characteristics and study methodology are described. 1 table and 16 references
Report (Grant Sponsored)
Date Published: June 1, 2017