Students who belong to minoritized groups feel less confident than those from non-minoritized groups that they’d receive support from peers in the event of a sexual assault, according to a recent study from Oregon State University.
The study, published last month in the journal Violence Against Women, relied on campus climate surveys that asked students to rank the likelihood of their peers reacting in specific ways to news that they’d been sexually assaulted. The list of possible responses included: “Students would label the person making the report a troublemaker” and “The alleged offender(s) or their friends would try to get back at the person making the report.”
Researchers found that students with any minoritized identity—whether race, gender or sexuality based, were more likely to anticipate a negative response than students without a minoritized identity. The expected reaction was even less favorable among students with more than one minoritized identity.
“The implication is that perception could impact disclosure behavior, and in a public health context, we know that people who have negative disclosure experiences are more at risk for poor health outcomes,” said study co-author Jill Hoxmeier, an instructor in Oregon State’s College of Health. “Institutions can play a really big role in generating more accurate, more positive, more inclusive conversations about sexual violence, which helps create space for more positive disclosure experiences.”