Miller, Susan S.
M.A. (Master of Arts)
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.
Merkel, Suzanne M., "The social construction of sexual assault : victim or survivor" (1996). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 6300.
Northern Illinois University
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