The response of community members and public institutions to the crimes of rape and sexual assault have been, historically, disappointing. Victims have felt forced into silence, ashamed to speak out about their experiences. More recently, with the rise of social media use and the #me-too movement, attention and interest has been garnered for this unique class of crimes and victims. It has been discovered that victims of sexual assault who report their assault to community members, police investigators, and health care workers are at risk of secondary victimization. This is a series of attitudes, behaviors, and practices that retraumatizes, shames, and blames victims of sexual assault. These behaviors contribute to increased levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, shame, self-blame, lack of perpetrator prosecution, and more. The purpose of this thesis was to evaluate the causes and effects of secondary victimization, its extent and prevalence, specifically how young adult females were affected by this issue, and any potential programs or solutions that may reduce or limit secondary victimization. This aim was achieved by reviewing and synthesizing thirty-two research articles related to issues of women's health, secondary victimization, and sexual assault or rape. Several programs were found to show promise for reducing this phenomenon, including sexual assault nurse examiner programs, victim advocates, professional counseling, and improving the education of police investigators and others involved in interactions with sexual assault victims.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Covelli, Maureen


Ricci, Susan


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Nursing Commons