Why Sexual Assault Survivors Do Not Report to Universities: A Feminist Analysis

Chelsea Spencer, Allen Mallory, Michelle Toews, Sandra Stith, Leila Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The present study analyzed responses from 220 female survivors of sexual assault at a U.S. college campus. Guided by feminist thought, we used thematic analysis to analyze survivors' reasons for not reporting their sexual assault to university officials. Drawing on participants' own words, the most common reasons for not reporting included “It was not a big enough deal,” “I didn't know who to report to or that I could report,” “It wasn't related to the university,” “I was afraid,” “Because I was drunk,” “Too ashamed to report,” “I didn't want to get him in trouble,” and “Felt as if I would be blamed for putting myself in the situation.” We conducted a series of binary logistic regressions to determine which demographic and experiential variables were associated with the thematic reason(s) for not reporting. In the spirit of feminist praxis, we offer implications for universities to remove barriers for reporting sexual violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-179
Number of pages14
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • College campuses
  • reporting
  • sexual assault
  • sexual violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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