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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

#Metoo : stories of sexual assault survivors on campus Davidson, Erin Eileen


Sexual assault is a common experience, with nearly 460,000 sexual assaults each year in Canada. Research suggests that women attending university are sexually assaulted at a higher frequency than the general population. These statistics are likely much higher since many people do not report their assault. Sexual assault has wide-ranging harmful physical, financial, social, and psychological impacts. There is an urgent need for more research into the experiences of sexual assault. The present study investigated this phenomenon using narrative inquiry. The research question for this study asked: What narratives were constructed by student survivors about their experiences of sexual assault on campus? While the majority of research on campus sexual assault is quantitative, there are a handful of qualitative studies on the topic, but little using narrative research design. Narrative inquiry suggests that language creates our understanding and verbal communication is the link to entering into the meaning systems of others. The current study utilizes a narrative approach that allowed space for the diverse stories of sexual assault survivors. Four participants were interviewed for this study. Three of the participants identified as female and one identified as male. All of the survivors were current students at the University of British Columbia and had experienced a sexual assault within the past five years. Five main themes emerged about their experiences: (a) Difficulty Considering the Experience to be a Sexual Assault; (b) Harmful Emotional Consequences; (c) Hesitancy to Report the Sexual Assault; (d) A Placating or Freeze Response; and (e) A Desire to Reconnect the Friendship with the Perpetrator. This study is significant because it informs university sexual assault policies and procedures, as well as provides valuable information for how counselling psychology practitioners can more effectively work with sexual assault survivors.

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