Social Responses Towards Sexualized Violence

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LeClaire, Karlie
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The focus of this study is based on the prevalence of rape culture that exists in North American society. The messages surrounding rape culture continue to impact the psychological wellbeing of sexual assault survivors. According to the‘Woman Against Violence Against Women' organization, ‘Rape Culture' can be defined as a societal belief that condones sexual aggression and violence towards women. A rape culture accepts the physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm, and believes that sexualized violence is merely a fact of life. Consequently, acts of sexualized violence become normalized and trivialized, and the survivors of assault are often held at least partially responsible for the event itself. Research shows that these attitudes (i.e., social responses) can significantly impact the way in which one will recover after being sexually assaulted. Due to the prevalence of rape culture, it is necessary that our society understands that social responses are one of, if not the greatest predictor of psychological recovery after someone has experienced a trauma, such as sexual assault. Moreover, it is important that those who intend to pursue a career in mental-health are aware of how important social responses are to an individual's recovery. This study will examine how aware university students are of the power of social responses. The targeted population is third and fourth year students enrolled in psychology classes at the University of Victoria. The results of this study will indicate how informed students are about the importance of social responses. This study will also aim to increase our society's awareness on the power of social responses, and how we can better support those who have experienced sexualized violence.
rape culture, sexualized violence, social response to rape, survivors of sexual assault