“You Just Gotta Watch What You Say in Those Situations”: A Normative Approach to Confidant Communication Surrounding Sexual Assault Disclosure

Ashley V. Middleton*, Kelly M. McAninch, Kimberly Brook Pusateri, Amy L. Delaney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although less than a third of sexual assaults are reported to authorities, survivors often disclose to family, friends, or romantic partners. However, survivor-confidant communication during and following disclosure may be challenging. Research has offered little insight into the theoretical bases for such difficulty or the ways confidants effectively address the challenges they perceive. Through qualitative interviews with 26 confidants, we develop normative theory of confidants’ experiences of and responses to sexual assault disclosure. Disclosure sets the stage for challenges in communicating support and respecting survivor privacy. Confidants respond via an array of behaviors, each with relative advantages and disadvantages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-250
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication Quarterly
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 14 2016

Keywords

  • Communication Theory
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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