Myths and realities of campus sexual assault: Implications for prevention and victim recovery.


College sexual assault has been the focus of a recent surge of media attention. Unfortunately, some of that attention is stereotyped and sensationalized and may ultimately deter primary prevention efforts and victim recovery. This presentation will counter sensationalized media messages with a summary of empirical research findings on (1) the correlates of sexual assault perpetration and (2) victim responses and recovery following sexual assault. Suggestions for future directions in prevention and treatment will be discussed.

Learning objectives

After attending this talk, participants will be able…

  1. to discuss positive and negative outcomes of the recent surge of media attention on campus sexual assault.
  2. to describe research findings about the correlates of sexual assault perpetration and the implication of those for primary prevention.
  3. to describe research findings about common psychological responses and recovery trajectories for sexual assault victims.

Zoë D. Peterson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences and Director of the Sexual Assault Research and Education Program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is a Research Fellow of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University. She also is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of Missouri. She has served as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Sex Research and as a Consulting Editor of Archives of Sexual Behavior. Dr. Peterson’s research focuses primarily on individuals’ experiences with and conceptualizations of sexual coercion, sexual aggression, and unwanted sex.

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