Survivors' Advice to Service Providers: How to Best Serve Survivors of Sexual Assault

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Adult survivor, Policy, Rape, Sexual assault


Recognizing the relatively low rate at which sexual assault survivors seek services, researchers in the last decade have turned their attention to better understanding survivors’ experiences with victim services. Surprisingly, limited research has directly asked sexual assault survivors for recommendations on how to improve victim services, including both criminal justice and community-based services. The current study builds on the existing literature to gather input from women survivors that can translate into ways to improve victim services. As part of a larger longitudinal study, the current investigation asked 224 ethnically diverse adult (aged 18-62) women survivors of recent sexual assault to provide recommendations for how victim services can best serve survivors of sexual assault at multiple time points. Nearly all women in the study (91%) offered specific recommendations on how to improve victim services. Recommendations included ensuring availability of a female provider, improving communication with survivors as well as within and between service providers, helping survivors obtain resources, believing and not blaming survivors, demonstrating greater understanding of trauma-related responses and approaching survivors with greater compassion, and implementing better training on effectively working with survivors. Implications for victim service provision are discussed.

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