Semester of Graduation

May 2019

Degree

Master of Mass Communication (MMC)

Department

Mass Communication

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The #MeToo movement allowed victims of sexual assault to go public with their stories. When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward with allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in September of 2018, she was scrutinized by President Trump for not reporting the incident to authorities “when it happened nearly 30 years ago.” Promptly, #WhyIDidntReport came to fruition on Twitter, uncovering the shame victims feel and the complexities behind why so many individuals didn’t and still don’t report their assaults. Victim-service agencies “provide victims with support and services to facilitate their physical and emotional recovery, offer protection from future victimizations, guide victims through the criminal justice system, or assist them in obtaining restitution.” Unfortunately, the utilization rate of victim-service agencies is still only 8% for all violent crimes— not just rape and sexual assault. The purpose of this study is to identify contemporary themes around sexual assault and to determine what factors impact reporting and utilization of sexual assault services in the U.S. By using social media this study identified barriers and challenges victims face when reporting sexual assaults. From this data, I was able to recommend best practices for engaging with the public in online spaces in order to increase agency utilization.

Committee Chair

Grimm, Joshua

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