Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Mental Health Counseling



First Advisor or Mentor

Elizabeth Jeglic


Sexual violence is a widespread phenomenon. The term rape myth was first coined in 1980 by Martha Burt, and she defined it as “prejudicial, stereotyped, or false beliefs about rape, rape victims, and rapists” (Burt, 1980 p. 217). These myths, as well as any continued contact after a sexual assault, often lead to victim blaming, making it more difficult for victims to report any sexual assault. While rape myths were developed based on adult sexual assault, some research suggests that they also applied to child sexual abuse. This study will explore and expand the literature on rape myth acceptance and how it impacts beliefs about post-abuse behaviors of both child and adult sexual abuse survivors; more specifically the role of continued contact with a perpetrator following sexual abuse. This study found no statistically significant difference in the relationships between rape myth acceptance and continued contact following sexual abuse. However, the results suggest that individuals who acknowledged sexual assault were more likely to report continued contact than those that did not, and individuals who did not self-report sexual assault but met legal criteria for sexual assault scored higher on the rape myth acceptance scale. These findings are discussed as they pertain to support, education, and outreach efforts for sexual violence.



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