Research centering on rape and sexual assault has revealed much regarding the various aspects that influence how people perceive sexual assault. There is an underrepresentation of the influence of language on how these perceptions are formed, yet preliminary research has suggested that in regards to sexual assault, language can alter how people view the perpetrator, the victim, and the assault in general (Bohner, 2001; Grubb & Harrower, 2009; McDonald & Kline, 2004; Sleath and Bull, 2009; Wilkinson, 2008). The previous literature on sexual assault and language focuses on the effect of language on attribution of blame between the victim and the perpetrator. Until the present study, there is no study that has looked at how language affects the clinical setting (the therapeutic relationship) between the survivor and a mental health professional. The study was conducted at medium-sized Midwestern University and recruited participants from an online research participation system for undergraduate students. The sample consisted of 124 participants that were mostly young adults, with 86.3% of participants aging between 18 to 19 years old. Participants were predominantly female (n=105) and Caucasian (n=107). After completing the brief demographics survey, participants completed a Sexual Assault Term Preferences Survey (SATPS) to assess their preferences on word choice when discussing sexual assault with a mental health professional. Terms associated with sexual assault were sorted into three main categories: terms describing the individual who was sexually assaulted, the act itself, and the individual who committed the sexual assault. Repeated measures ANOVAs were conducted on the term preferences for each category. For each of the three major categories, there were statistically significant preferences and dislikes found. For example when describing the act itself, participants reported higher preferences for terms such as "sexual assault" and "crime" than terms such as "coerced sex" or "interaction." Results demonstrate the language component to treating individuals who have experienced sexual assault and that the language choices mental health professionals use to discuss a sexual assault could influence their therapeutic relationship with clients.
|Advisor:||Pawlow, Laura, Pomerantz, Andrew|
|Commitee:||Pawlow, Laura, Pomerantz, Andrew, Segrist, Dan|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 56/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Clinical psychology, Language, Rape, Sexual assault, Trauma|
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