Breaking the Silence of Sexual Violence
: Identifying the Factors that Affect Help Seeking for Victim/Survivors of Sexual Violence

  • Catherine Walshe

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Aim/Objective: Many victim/survivors of sexual violence do not seek help (Campbell, 2008). The aim of this study is to identify factors that affect help seeking for sexual violence for both women and men. Method: This is a qualitative research study investigating the experience of victim/survivors seeking help in the aftermath of sexual violence. A semi-structured interview schedule informed by Ecological Systems Theory (EST; Bronfenbrenner, 1979) was developed and conducted with two distinct cohorts; victim/survivors of sexual violence who sought and attained help from a sexual violence support service, specifically the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and; victim/survivors who were unable to seek or attain adequate support. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) facilitated by computer software program NVivo 12. Results: Findings were categorized into 7 distinct themes each of which relate to the research question of identifying the factors that affect help seeking for sexual violence. Themes generated were (1) Impact of Sexual Violence (2) Naming It (3) Informal Support (4) Formal Support (5) Road to Recovery (6) Navigating Help Seeking within an Irish Context and (7) Recommendations for Change. Discussion: There are several factors that contribute to a victim/survivor’s ability to seek and attain professional support in the aftermath of sexual violence. Applying an EST framework adequately categorizes these factors and furthers our understanding of the help seeking process. Conclusion: Findings of this research has practical implications for practice and research. Findings enable interventions to more accurately target factors that affect help seeking so that barriers can be mitigated and facilitators fostered.
    Date of AwardOct 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorCherie Armour (Supervisor), Mark Shevlin (Supervisor) & Jamie Murphy (Supervisor)


    • Sexual Violence
    • Help Seeking
    • Gender
    • Barriers
    • Facilitators

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