Campus and College Victim Responses to Sexual Assault and Dating Violence: Disclosure, Service Utilization, and Service Provision

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2014 Jul;15(3):201-226. doi: 10.1177/1524838014521322. Epub 2014 Feb 4.


After sexual assault or dating violence occurs, a college victim may disclose the event to formal and informal sources as well as seek services. The current review explores empirical research on formal disclosure, informal disclosure, service utilization, and service provision among college students. Forty-five empirical articles and reports that met certain criteria were reviewed. Overall, rates of informal disclosure were considerably higher than rates of formal disclosure. Characteristics of the incident, victim, and offender were associated with disclosure. Rates of service utilization were varied but appear to be low among those victimized in the past year. When services were used, physical and mental health services were most often utilized. Available services, policies for dating violence and sexual assault, and judicial processes varied according to the type of institution, and indicate several areas for improvement. A number of research, practice, and policy implications emerge from this critical review of the literature.

Keywords: college students; dating violence; disclosure; help seeking; policies; rape; services; sexual violence.