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Institutional betrayal magnifies post-trauma effects of unwanted sexual activity
Date:3/8/2013

EUGENE, Ore. -- (March 8, 2013) -- A study of 345 female university students found that 233 of them had experienced at least one unwanted sexual experience in their lifetime, and 46 percent of those victims also experienced betrayal by the institution where incidents occurred. In the final analysis, researchers found, those who experienced institutional betrayal suffered the most in four post-trauma measurement categories, including anxiety and dissociation.

The study by the University of Oregon's doctoral student Carly Parnitzke Smith and Jennifer J. Freyd, professor of psychology, introduces a 10-item analysis tool -- the Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire -- designed to assess institutional betrayal and involvement. The study appears in the Journal of Traumatic Stress and comes in the same month that "Blind to Betrayal," a new book co-authored by Freyd and UO psychologist Pamela Birrell, was published.

"Our work on institutional betrayal has coincided with increased public awareness of the harm inflicted by unresponsive institutions surrounding traumatic events," Freyd said. "In describing the form and effects of this type of betrayal, we hope to eventually turn the dialogue towards opportunities for institutions to protect and nurture their members."

The study, Freyd said, takes the focus beyond the usual research on emotional, physical and sexual abuse in one-on-one situations to include the idea that victimization within institutions -- a university, including residence halls, fraternities and sororities, the military and organized religion -- that individuals trust adds a layer of trauma through the betrayal. Because the study surveyed the participants' lifetime, not all of the incidents occurred while at college, and many were no longer affiliated with the specific institutions where the betrayals occurred.

"Our results suggest that organizations need to widen the scope of their institutional actions and
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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert  

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