Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Guillermo Montes

Second Supervisor

Richard DeJesus-Rueff


The purpose of this study was to add to the existing literature about the lived experience of undergraduate college women between the ages of 18-24 years who experienced a sexual assault while enrolled in college. This study used a semi-structured interview protocol with six undergraduate women, between the ages of 18-22 years, who were enrolled in a Western New York college. The qualitative phenomenological design, along with feminist interviewing practices, provided a deeper understanding of the lived experience of the survivors and the barriers that keep women from reporting their assaults to college officials. Six undergraduate college women shared their experience of being sexually assaulted while in college. Contextual and structural themes were developed from the analysis of the participant interviews, which explored their campus sexual assault. Contextual themes included: (a) lack of definition of the experience; (b) not a big deal, it was my fault; and (c) did not want to get self or others in trouble. Additionally, the structural themes included: (a) mistrust of the reporting process, and (b) lack of knowledge about campus support services and personnel. These themes provided valuable insight to understanding the effects of a sexual assault for college women. The findings indicate a need to improve support services and the manner in which students are asked to report being sexually assaulted and the importance of given students a voice in the develop of policies and procedures.

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