Friends of survivors: The community impact of unwanted sexual experiences.


Since sexual assault survivors are most likely to disclose their experiences to a friend; prevention efforts increasingly focus on friends as informal helpers. The current study examined friends’ perceptions of the disclosure experience. Undergraduates (N=1,241) at the University of New Hampshire completed a shortened version of the Ahrens and Campbell (2000) Impact on Friends measure. Results found that about 1 in 3 female undergraduates and 1 in 5 male students were told by a friend that they were a victim of an unwanted sexual experience. Gender differences were found in friends’ responses to disclosure. Women reported greater emotional distress in response to a friend's disclosure, greater positive responses and lesser-perceived confusion/ineffectiveness as compared to men. Implications include the need to develop specific and clear educational material to help the community cope with and effectively respond to unwanted sexual experiences on college campuses.

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Journal of Interpersonal Violence


Sage Publications

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