University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Why didn’t she fight back? An exploration of victim blaming through tonic immobility reactions to sexual violence

Heritage, Sophie (2021) Why didn’t she fight back? An exploration of victim blaming through tonic immobility reactions to sexual violence. Masters thesis, University of Worcester.

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Despite research showing that tonic immobility is the most common reaction to sexual violence, it is often is understood by some and disregarded by others. Research also indicates that holding prejudicial or false beliefs about victims can impact the judicial system, affecting reporting and conviction rates. This study explored rape myth acceptance and victim blaming in relation to victims’ reactions to sexual violence. This was done through an online survey, utilising the updated Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale and featuring four vignette scenarios, producing both quantitative and qualitative data. The research showed that rape myths and victim blaming are linked phenomena, that there were distinct differences in the perceived blame and naturality assigned to victims based on how they reacted to sexual violence, and that tonic immobility was the least understood reaction to trauma. This research highlighted the continual presence of rape culture, through rape myths and victim blaming attitudes, and the need to educate the public on common reactions to sexual abuse, with the hope to improve the judicial system and make a positive impact on society.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information:

Dissertation submitted as part requirement for the Master’s Degree Understanding Domestic and Sexual Violence. University of Worcester, September 2021.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: sexual violence, victim blaming, rape myths, tonic immobility
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
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Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2022 09:28
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2022 09:28

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