Campus Sexual Assault & Emotional Well-Being

Sexual assault (SA) is extremely prevalent among college students. Most victims of SA seek social support by telling others about their assault. Unfortunately, victims often receive negative reactions to their disclosures (e.g., blaming the victim or questioning whether the event was really assault). Negative reactions are particularly common among formal support persons, such as campus police and members of the faculty and staff, and these types of reactions can be extremely harmful to victims, increasing their risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychosocial problems (Ortelli et al., In Preparation). Members of the Reactivity Lab develop and test hypotheses about why victims receive negative reactions to their disclosures. For example, our research suggests that reactions depend on whether the victim had consumed alcohol prior to the assault. We are also examining characteristics of the victims (e.g., their race and sexual orientation) that may impact the types of reactions they receive. This research could identify targets for prevention and intervention to improve mental health outcomes of survivors of campus sexual assault.

Related Publications

Bilal, N. J., & Herres, J. (In Preparation). I Belong: GSM Students’ Positive Perceptions of Campus Climate Protect Against PTSD Following Sexual Assault

Ortelli, O., Turner, J., Pereda, B., Bobchin, K., Jacoby, C., & Herres, J. (In Preparation). Social reactions to substance-related campus sexual assault depend on whom you tell.

Herres, J., & Rodriguez, I. (In Preparation). The impact of the social climate on the development of posttraumatic stress following campus sexual assault.

Herres, J.,  Ortelli, O., Rodriguez, I., & Onyewuenyi, A. C. (2023).  Factors associated with perceived stress and depressive symptoms among college students during the COVID-19 pandemic . Journal of American College Health, 1-12.

Pollack, S., & Herres, J. (2020). Prior Day Negative Affect Influences Current Day Procrastination: A Lagged Daily Diary Analysis. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 33(2), 165-175.

Herres, J., Wang, S. B., Bobchin, K., & Draper, J. (2018). A socioecological model of risk associated with campus sexual assault in a representative sample of liberal arts college students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Wang, S. B., Herres, J., & Diamond, G. S. (2017). Influence of interpersonal trauma and positive peer and family interactions on traumatic distress among adolescent and young adult primary care patients. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.