Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Miller, Susan S.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Rape--Social aspects; Rape--Psychological aspects; Rape victims--Counseling; Rape victims--Psychology


Sexual assault reduces the self to an object and destroys a sense of social and self-worth. The rape recovery process involves integrating the assault into the reconstruction of the self. In order to do this, the victim must take into account the cultural construction of the stigma of rape and gender role expectations that influence the disclosure and coping processes. This qualitative study examines the discussions of 12 women who were sexually assaulted as they describe their "stories" and how their sense of self were reconstructed after the assault through gender role expectations, the disclosure process and coping processes. The fluidity of the victim and survivor roles demonstrated these roles are not dichotomous or linear, and respondents reported a constant state of fluctuation even twenty years following the assault. The perceived label of "good" or "bad" was the strongest factor in the rape recovery process. The reactions of parents, particularly mothers, and romantic/sexual partners to the rape disclosure functioned to rebuild or further shatter assumptions about the world and the self. These self-perceptions were also influenced by coping behaviors and attitudes that contributed to the roles of victim or survivor and the label of "good" or "bad" as self-fulfilling prophecies for women who had been sexually assaulted.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [78]-81)


81 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type