Adolescent Sexual Assault Disclosure: The Impact of Peers, Families, and Schools
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Adolescent sexual assault survivors are more likely to seek support from peers and families than to formal help systems, such as the medical and legal systems. In this study, we conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with N = 20 adolescent sexual assault survivors aged 14–17 who obtained services from Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Programs to understand the pathways that led them to seek formal help. Our goal was to examine how survivors’ initial disclosures to peers, families, and schools facilitated adolescents’ access to formal help systems. Additionally, we explored how peer, family and school systems interact as mesosystems to effect subsequent disclosures. Results show that the peer and family microsystems were decisive in survivors’ willingness to enter formal systems. Disclosure became more complex when peer, family, and school personnel all became aware of the assault. When these mesosystem interactions occurred with survivors’ consent and produced a helpful response, they were perceived as positive. Alternatively, mesosystem interactions in which survivors had minimal control resulted in greater reluctance to enter formal systems. These conclusions highlight the need educating informal support providers about community services in order to make the disclosure process easier and beneficial for survivors’ recovery and well-being.
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- Adolescent Sexual Assault Disclosure: The Impact of Peers, Families, and Schools
American Journal of Community Psychology
Volume 52, Issue 1-2 , pp 73-83
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer US
- Additional Links
- Adolescent sexual assault
- Formal help-seeking
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, 262 Psychology Building, East Lansing, MI, 48824-1116, USA
- 2. Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, 127 C Psychology Building, East Lansing, MI, 48824-1116, USA