The retrospective experience of individuals marginalized by gender that encountered sexual violence in post-secondary education

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Waddell - Henowitch, Candice
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Sexual violence is a pervasive problem that affects those marginalized by gender (women, trans, nonbinary people) more than cisgender men. Within post-secondary educational institutions, the problem amplifies with up to one in four women experiencing sexual violence before the age of 24. Additionally, sexual violence affects trans and gender nonbinary individuals more than their cisgender peers. As a large proportion of individuals experience sexual violence while in the formative years of post-secondary education, these settings are integral in prevention and appropriate intervention. Yet, there continues to be negative rhetoric and rape myths that surround these institutes of higher learning that protect the perpetrator and minimize or dismiss the victim/survivor. The current context of #metoo and #beenrapedneverreported movements highlight the pervasive extent of delayed disclosure of sexual violence experiences and illuminate the need for caregiving systems, including psychiatric and mental health nurses, to respond in a trauma-informed, survivor-centered manner. Through qualitative, trauma-informed methods with a feminist perspective, this study explores the retrospective experience of individuals marginalized by gender who encountered sexual violence in post-secondary educational institutions. The findings of the 10 semi-structured interviews and archive review from one post-secondary institution provide insight into three main topics: (1) the lasting impact of this form of violence, (2) how rape myths alter individuals’ perceptions of their experiences, and (3) the messages that victims/survivors feel are crucial to aid in recovery. The narratives of the victims/survivors may help others to process their own sexual violence while simultaneously reiterating the need for anti-oppressive and trauma-informed responses from psychiatric and mental health nurses as well as post-secondary institutions.
Sexual violence, gender marginalized individuals, post-secondary education, trauma-informed research, qualitative research