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The Influence of Community Sociocultural Context on Creating an Effective, Coordinated Response to Sexual Assault

NCJ Number
Psychology of Women Quarterly Volume: 42 Issue: 4 Dated: 2018 Pages: 445-460
Date Published
16 pages
This qualitative study examined how sociocultural context may influence the effectiveness within a sample of 169 leaders of 169 U.S. Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs).

Members of Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs) coordinate and improve the community response to sexual assault. A SART's effectiveness is likely influenced by its sociocultural context, or the norms, values, and beliefs of the local community; however, this has yet to be empirically examined. The current study found that SART leaders believed that specific norms and beliefs held by the general public in their community (rape myths and victim blame, denial of sexual assault happening locally, taboos against discussing sexual assault, and a male-dominated environment) delegitimized sexual assault as a problem that deserved public intervention. Leaders believed these led community members to resist the team's efforts by decreasing the community's support and buy-in to the SART, interfering with efforts to make services accessible to survivors and obstructing the SART's ability to effectively respond to cases. In addition, some leaders believed highly interconnected communities compromised the accessibility and objectivity of systems that respond to sexual assault. These findings suggest that SARTs need to tailor their efforts to improve accessibility of systems and the response to sexual assault cases, based on their distinctive local sociocultural context. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2018