BYSTANDER INTERVENTION THROUGH THE SURVIVOR’S LENS: CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT AND THE ROLE OF BYSTANDERS

Open Access
Author:
Beck, Christy
Graduate Program:
Higher Education
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
May 04, 2018
Committee Members:
  • David S Guthrie, Dissertation Advisor
  • David S Guthrie, Committee Chair
  • Theresa K Vescio, Committee Member
  • Liliana Garces, Committee Member
  • Amy Dyanna Marshall, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • sexual assault
  • bystander intervention
  • empathy
  • college campuses
Abstract:
Sexual assault on college campuses has reached epidemic proportions. One of the ways that higher education institutions have tried to address the issue of sexual assault on college campuses is through Bystander Intervention (BI). BI seeks to prevent sexual assault by training people (potential bystanders) in close proximity to the victim how to intervene effectively without endangering themselves. At the core of my research is developing an understanding of the role of bystanders who could have, but did not intervene, from the perspective of those who have been sexually assaulted. Through this lens I hope to contribute to the existing BI programs with a victim-informed framework. This research takes an interdisciplinary approach, integrating my background in psychology with my disciplines of higher education and women’s studies. This phenomenological study includes qualitative interviews with 13 participants from the same large, multi-campus university who have been sexually assaulted while in college. Many levels of sexual assault are represented, from unwanted touching, to sexual assault after consent has been revoked, to rape. From these interviews, seven themes emerged which gave unprecedented insight into how these college women experienced sexual assault, and how they would have liked bystanders to intervene.