University of Oregon Researchers Find Many Victims of Sexual Misconduct Feel Institutional Betrayal

uo-logoA survey of women students at the University of Oregon found that 68 percent of the respondents had experienced an unwanted sexual encounter during their lifetime. Of those that had experienced sexual misconduct, 46 percent stated that they felt betrayed by the institution that they were affiliated with at the time. Researchers measured the level of betrayal felt by respondents by asking them if they felt the institution, acted like it was no big deal, tried to cover up the incident, made it difficult to report the misconduct, responded inadequately, or punished the victim in some way.

Carly P. Smith and Jennifer J. Freyd

Jennifer J. Freyd, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and co-author of the study, stated, “In describing the form and effects of this type of betrayal, we hope to eventually turn the dialogue toward opportunities for institutions to protect and nurture their members. Our results suggest that organizations need to widen the scope of their institutional actions and policies to both prevent and respond to sexual assaults.”

Since the survey asked women about their lifetime experiences, not just those on campus, the institutions involved may have been employers, the public schools, colleges and universities, clubs, their church, or other institutions.

The women respondents who felt they had been betrayed by the institutions with which they had been affiliated, were more likely to suffer from anxiety, sexual dysfunction, and other post-traumatic disorders, according to the authors.

Dr. Freyd worked with University of Oregon doctoral student Carly Parnitzke Smith on the study which was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Dr Freyd is the co-author of the recently published Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren’t Being Fooled (Wiley, 2013). She has taught at the University of Oregon since 1987. Professor Freyd is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply