Women’s Center Staff Perceptions of the Campus Climate on Sexual Violence

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Abstract

Background:

Sexual assault is a major public health problem disproportionately affecting women on college and university campuses. As sexual assault is often unreported, survivors may not have the access to resources and services that are helpful in healing. Campus-based women’s centers provide a comfortable place and resource to address women’s issues on campus. Individuals who work in these centers have open communication channels with students and a role in the administrative structure that may provide a unique understanding of survivors, the student environment, and the institutional context regarding sexual assault.

Objective:

The purpose of this study was to understand the perceptions of campus-based women’s center staff on college and university campuses, specifically regarding campus-based responses to sexual assault.

Methods:

Participants responded electronically to six open-ended survey questions. Data were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis approach to identify key themes present within the data.

Results:

Key concepts identified included respect, trust, confidentiality, trained professionals, and comprehensive and consistent response.

Conclusions:

The findings provide an early description of the perceptions of staff in campus-based women’s centers related to prevention, reporting, and response to sexual violence on campuses and can be used to inform campus policies and practices as well as forensic and college-based nursing practice.

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