Empowerment or Threat: Perceptions of Childhood Sexual Abuse in the #Metoo Era

Melissa Samantha de Roos, University of Texas at El Paso


Most victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) will not disclose the abuse until they reach adulthood. When victims do disclose, they often face negative responses such as disbelief or blame. The specifics of both the individual and the abuse can create barriers for individual victims to disclose the abuse (i.e. gender of the perpetrator or age of the victim at the time of abuse). These situational and individual differences create societal expectations and stereotypical beliefs about CSA that further complicate the disclosure process for the victim. The aim of these studies is to explain why men tend to be less supportive of CSA disclosures than women. Through use of defensive attribution theory and self-affirmation theory, the effects of the #metoo movement on reactions to CSA disclosures were explored. Through online surveys, perceptions of the movement as well as participants’ responses to a disclosure were recorded. Results indicated that men are indeed more skeptical in their responses to a CSA disclosure, and this effect is strengthened after reading about false allegations of sexual violence. Further, proximity to sexual victimization facilitates supportive responses, whereas proximity to perpetration has the opposite effect. Self- affirmation appears to increase the likelihood of supportive responses. Implications for future research and the ongoing conversation about sexual violence are discussed.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

de Roos, Melissa Samantha, "Empowerment or Threat: Perceptions of Childhood Sexual Abuse in the #Metoo Era" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13420929.