Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Department

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First Advisor

Marcia L. Martin, PhD

Second Advisor

Jacqueline Strait, PhD

Abstract

The #MeToo movement gained traction in 2017 when survivors of sexual violence were encouraged to speak out on social media about their own experiences. Subsequently, millions of individuals came forward with their stories of sexual violence, thrusting these traumatic experiences into the spotlight.

This dissertation discusses the findings of a qualitative, empirical study, designed to examine the intended and unintended ways in which the #MeToo movement has impacted survivors of sexual violence. In creating the context for this study, theoretical frameworks that allowed for an understanding of the ways in which cultural dialogues may impact individuals, along with the understanding of the ways in which sexual violence and trauma is processed, were explored. Findings revealed that the participant survivors had significant responses to this movement. Nine critical themes were identified including positive responses to the movement, such as the development of increased connections to other survivors and support systems, feelings of gratitude, and increased comfort in speaking about their experiences. Other responses highlighted more intrusive or distressing reactions, included feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, guilty or retraumatized, with some survivors noting the need to engage in protective behaviors, and others questioning the movements overall longevity or impact.

Clinical implications of this research include an increased awareness of the impact of this movement on survivors of sexual violence and a greater understanding of their experiences within the context of this movement. Particularly, this dissertation sheds light on the potential ramifications of exposure to traumatic material through large scale advocacy movements taking place on both social and traditional media outlets, as well as the potential for healing as a result of the same phenomenon.

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Social Work Commons

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