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Evaluating a Web-Based Crisis Hotline for Sexual Assault Victims: Reducing Barriers, Increasing Help-Seeking, and Improving the Help-Seeking Experience

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2021
146 pages

This is the Final Report on the first phase of an evaluation of Crisis Chat, a web-based crisis hotline for sexual assault survivors at Michigan State University.


One of the issues to be addressed in the evaluation is whether a text or web-based crisis hotline increases victim reporting, help-seeking, and use of services, particularly among traditionally underserved populations on a college campus. The evaluation will also address is whether this type of crisis hotline decreases barriers to help-seeking and engagement of survivors with the criminal justice system among sexual assault victims on a college campus; and the third issue to be examined in the evaluation is whether this type of crisis hotline improves the help-seeking experience for sexual assault victims on a college campus. Since the Crisis Chat was a relatively new program when the evaluation grant began in January 2019, the current report focuses on formative evaluation activities that strengthened and prepared the program for further evaluation. The first phase of the evaluation covered in this report describes the Crisis Chat program and examines its potential to increase access to services, decrease barriers to help-seeking, and improve the help-seeking experience. This phase also strengthened the program’s infrastructure to facilitate further rigorous evaluation, including the creation of a logic model and development of measurements tools. In addition, a pilot test was conducted to assess the feasibility of using the developed measures to evaluate Crisis Chat as a means of increasing victim reporting and help-seeking, decreasing barriers to help-seeking, and improving the help-seeking experience. The project engaged team members from the Michigan State University Center for Survivors (CFS) in designing and implementing a phased evaluation that is methodologically rigorous and aligned with CFS goals.

Date Published: September 1, 2021