Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Sarah Knox

Second Advisor

Susan Turell

Third Advisor

Alan Burkard

Abstract

Sexual violence affects tens of thousands of people annually in the United States. The majority of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18. Victims of sexual violence often experience severe, long-lasting ramifications, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, interpersonal problems, suicidal ideation, self-harm behaviors, and eating disorders. As a result of these effects, it is imperative that communities provide effective primary prevention of sexual violence programs. However, it is challenging to effectively implement sexual violence primary prevention strategies for a variety of reasons. One challenge is because it is difficult to construct a prevention program that changes the social norms and cultural beliefs that both contribute to sexual violence and are reinforced on a daily basis through society's social structures and media influences. A second, and related, challenge is the difficulty of implementing effective prevention strategies that specifically address the cultural norms and belief systems of a particular community.

These challenges are addressed in this study through the Community Readiness Model (CRM). The CRM is a qualitative model of community assessment used to match a prevention strategy to the social norms and culture of a specific community. The CRM assesses a community along six Dimensions and nine Stages of Readiness. This study was completed in rural and urban Racine County, Wisconsin. Results indicated that both the rural and urban Racine County communities were at the Vague Awareness stage of readiness to implement primary prevention strategies to reduce the incidence of sexual violence against adolescents. Implications of the study are provided including possible primary prevention implementation strategies that match the levels of readiness within the communities. Theoretical and methodological limitations of this research are presented, as well as the study's implications for future research.

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