Alexis A. Adams-Clark, M.S., is a graduate student in the University of Oregon's Clinical Psychology program. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Gender and Women's Studies at Connecticut College. Her research focuses on the psychological and physical effects of sexual assault and harassment.
Prachi H. Bhuptani, M.A., is a graduate student in Miami University's Clinical Psychology program. Her research focuses on the investigation of ecological factors and processes underlying experiences of shame following sexual victimization among women.
Carly P. Smith, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at Penn State College of Medicine, jointly appointed in the departments of Humanities and Psychiatry. Her research is focused on understanding how institutions may harm the people under their care or protection following traumatic experiences. She developed the theory of Institutional Betrayal related to sexual harassment and gender-based violence and recently expanded her focus to understanding the impact of institutional betrayal in healthcare systems and medical education. She is also interested in preventing and repairing institutional betrayal via education and interventions with healthcare providers.
Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD, is the Founder of the Center for Institutional Courage, Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon, Visiting Scholar at Stanford Medical School, and Faculty Affiliate of the VMware Women's Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University. She is also a Member of the Advisory Committee, 2019-2023, for the Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and leader of the Program on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sexual Violence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, 2019-20, where she was a Fellow, 1989-90 and 2018-19. Freyd is a widely published scholar known for her theories of betrayal trauma, institutional betrayal, institutional courage, and DARVO.
Universities are mandated by the Clery Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) to publicize the occurrence of certain campus crimes. Many universities rely on “Crime Alert” emails to quickly and effectively communicate when a crime has occurred. However, communications of sexual crimes are often narrow (e.g., limited to stranger-perpetrated crimes) and misleading (e.g., containing safety tips that are not applicable to most types of sexual violence). The current paper presents the results of two studies that test the effects of reading crime alert emails on subsequent endorsement of rape myths and institutional betrayal. In Study 1, participants read a typical crime alert email describing a stranger-perpetrated crime, an alternative email describing an acquaintance-perpetrated crime, or a control email describing an event unrelated to interpersonal violence. Men were significantly more likely to endorse rape myths than were women in the control condition, but not in the typical or alternative email condition. In addition, results from Study 1 indicate that issuing crime alert emails following stranger-perpetrated sexual violence leads to a sense of institutional betrayal among students who have experienced acquaintance-perpetrated violence. In Study 2, participants read a typical crime alert email or an alternative digest email. Participants who read the typical email reported higher rape myth acceptance, but not institutional betrayal, than those who read the digest email. There were also significant gender differences in student opinions of each email that suggest the digest email format may serve as a useful tool for engaging male students in the issue of campus sexual violence. Taken together, these studies provide converging evidence that university communication regarding sexual violence can either perpetuate or positively influence attitudes towards sexual violence.
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Adams-Clark, Alexis A.; Smith, Carly P.; Bhuptani, Prachi H.; and Freyd, Jennifer J.
"University Crime Alerts: Do They Contribute to Institutional Betrayal and Rape Myths?,"
Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence:
1, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dignity/vol5/iss1/6