What Can Be Done To Improve It?
Through my interviews and research, it is clear that what is currently being done to create the best possible post-assault environment for victims is not enough. It was frightening to see the frequency with which the description of the post-assault process as a "second rape" was used. Both of the interviews of victims that I conducted yielded similar results to where the system failed and what the negative reactions that the experienced and feared were. Many of the problems and misperceptions that they mentioned aligned with the negative attitudes and ideas that I encountered with my interviews of bystander students and non-victims.
Misperceptions of intent, objectification, and a misunderstanding of sexual assault on campuses (from the administration down to the students) were pegged as the ingredients that fuel post-assault negativity. These factors led to continued and heightened pain after one respondent reported her assault. This type of blowback prevented another respondent from even reporting her assault, despite the mounting pressure to do so that some of her friends levied upon her.
The information I gained from interviews of male college students confirmed that the attitudes and ideas that the victims pointed to as the cause of their post-assault tribulations are in face highly pervasive. Most of these factors seemed deep-seated and have been little changed by programming and information that they have gained while at Emory. So what changes can be made to fix this? My research has showed that the most important steps to take are creating earlier prevention and awareness programs and more action to change our current view and message on rape.