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Dear Sister Letter Campaign and Survey

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Elizabeth Russo

"Sexual violence is a term that encompasses crimes in which unwanted sexual contact or behavior is forced upon a victim without explicit consent. In Utah, the Department of Public Health finds that ""rape is the only violent crime in Utah that is higher than the national average"" (Utah Department of Health, 2021). This is particularly concerning considering that all other violent crimes, including homicide, aggravated assault, and robbery are two to three times lower than the national average (Utah Department of Health, 2021). One in every three Utah women has been sexually assaulted, and the state's higher rate of rape than the national average makes sexual assault a serious problem in Utah (Madsen et al., 2016). Sexual assault causes intense emotional and physical pain in victims through depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-harm, sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, dissociation, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, or suicide (RAINN, n.d.). Past studies have found that a significant percentage, ranging from 35% to 75% of male sexual assault offenders have been victims of sexual assault themselves (Glasser et al., 2001; Johnston & Lambie, 2015; Wilcox et al., 2004). Not all survivors of sexual violence or rape become sexual offenders. This project proposes to understand the reasons why victims of sexual assault do not become sexual offenders. The purpose of this study is to identify ways women have impacted resiliency in male Utahan survivors of sexual assault who have not offended. Women are overwhelmingly the victims and men the perpetrators of sexual assault. Therefore, it is relevant for women to identify and understand how they may impact resilient factors of men which protect females from victimization by males. With Utah's serious problem with sexual assault, it is even more relevant that a study be conducted focusing on Utah specifically. If this study is successful in identifying what women's role is in male resiliency, the findings of the study could be used to create more impactful prevention measures targeted towards individuals who experience sexual abuse in Utah. Additionally, the findings of this study have the potential to create more successful rehabilitation programs for offenders of sexual assault who were once victims themselves in Utah. In partnership with the Center for Student Wellness at the University of Utah, the campaign will be launched virtually on February 1st and will be live throughout the month of February. Participants will submit a letter written to a ""sister"", or female identifying person who impacted their resiliency after a sexual assault. Participants will also have the option to submit a survey asking questions about the resources provided by the CSW. The research team will analyze the data from the surveys as they come in and thematically analyze the letters in March 2023."
University / Institution: University of Utah
Type: Poster
Format: Virtual
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Annie Fukushima