Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs


Angela Catena

Publication Date



This pilot study utilized constructivist grounded theory to explore the process of identifying as a survivor among women who have been sexually assaulted. An overwhelming majority of research available on survivors of traumatic events, such as sexual assault, focus primarily on the psychological, and sometimes physical, reactions. The literature fails to investigate personal influences, experiences, and processes on a more individual level; rather it discusses symptomology and treatment modalities used to alleviate symptoms related to various clinical diagnoses. Seven women were interviewed twice exploring their specific journey and processes to identifying as a survivor after victimization. Six theoretical phases emerged from the data: identification, conceptualization of the assault, barriers, coping mechanisms, disclosure and community, and altruism. These categories, conditions, strategies, and consequences explicated the process that emerged from the data collected. These findings may influence future research as well as clinical approaches by incorporating various aspects such as partnership and intimacy and reconstructing meaning. Lastly, implications for counselor education are suggested in an effort to better equip counselors in training with the appropriate tools to effectively work with victims of sexual violence.


sexual assault survivor, trauma, healing, female survivors

Document Type




Degree Name

Counselor Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Individual, Family, and Community Education

First Advisor

Goodrich, Kristopher

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lemberger-Truelove, Matthew

Second Committee Member

Jane, Kimberly

Third Committee Member

Trinidad-Galvan, Ruth

Included in

Education Commons