University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

The role of victim and perpetrator gender in shaping rape myths and their impact on support services for adult survivors: insights from a socioecological approach

Scurlock-Evans, Laura ORCID: (2019) The role of victim and perpetrator gender in shaping rape myths and their impact on support services for adult survivors: insights from a socioecological approach. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

Text (PhD thesis)
LScurlockEvans REVISED thesis 2020.pdf - Submitted Version

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The concept of the rape myth has been influential in research exploring attitudes towards survivors, and their experiences with legal, medical and support systems. However, much of this work has been conducted from the female�victim-male-perpetrator paradigm. Historically, this has led to the marginalisation of male victims, female perpetrators and same-sex sexual violence in academic,
public and political arenas. Despite growing recognition of these issues (particularly within the last 20 years), there are still gaps in our understanding of the way victim and perpetrator gender shape rape myths. While these gaps may
currently represent barriers to supporting survivors of sexual violence, they may also hold the opportunity for transformative praxis.
This research explores the role of victim and perpetrator gender in shaping rape myths for adult survivors, and how these myths impact on support services for adult survivors.
A multiphase mixed methods design using a feminist-informed
socioecological approach is used. ‘Mixing’ occurs at both the levels of research design and interpretation of the findings. The research comprises four phases:
Phase 1. A systematic review that explored the findings of existing research in relation to victim gender and perpetrator gender and rape myths, and blame.
Phase 2. Based on findings of phase 1, a quasi-experimental study was conducted that varied victim and perpetrator gender to examine their impact on acceptance of different rape types of myth.
Phase 3. Informed by findings from phase 2, a qualitative study was
conducted with sexual violence support specialists using an approach informed by the Think Aloud method. The study explored, from their experience, the salience of different myths for male and female survivors, and how this was
affected by perpetrator gender.
Phase 4. Conducted concurrently with phase 3, a qualitative in-depth interview study was conducted with the phase 3 sample of sexual violence support specialists. The study explored their experiences and beliefs of how
gender and rape myths impact on support services for adult survivors of sexual violence.
This research suggests that considering victim gender without the explicit consideration of perpetrator gender can be misleading because it overlooks important contextual information that perceivers use when making judgments
about survivors. Recent events in UK (e.g. revelations relating to Jimmy Saville) have led to greater awareness of rape myths and victim blaming. However, although this may have brought about surface level change, rape myths still shape survivors’ experiences of seeking support and engaging with the Criminal Justice System. In combination, these factors play important roles in shaping services for
male and female survivors of sexual violence (and survivors or other gender identities). The present thesis demonstrates the value of adopting a socioecological approach to explore the role gender plays in shaping challenges faced by specialist victim-survivor support provision.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

Thesis submitted in partial requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Worcester, 2019.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: rape myths, victim gender, perpetrator gender, adult survivors, support services
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Laura Scurlock-Evans
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2021 11:28
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2021 11:46

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