Identity Development And Healing: The Process Of Personal Transformation For Sexual Assault Survivors

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Paula Green


This research examines not only how hidden identity impacts interpersonal relations, but also how it impedes the claiming of a survivor's full potential and inhibits her growth. Survivors are shut down by a society that blames the experience of sexual assault on the victim, thus impacting the survivor’s ability to move forward into healing and recovery. Friends and family members can further impede the process with inappropriate responses and denial. Interpersonal relations are blocked, stymied and cut off. Survivors learn to emotional detach from not only the pain of the experience, but also the people in their lives, creating a negative environment for healing.

This research justifies positive interventions. Yet, most survivors in this research do not receive positive interventions. Most experience negating comments and a lack of support. So, this research also looks at the negative interventions and their ability to stunt the survivor’s movement into healing. Additionally, the research goes on to describe the healing process and its parallel journey of identity. What is the process and how do interpersonal relations impact it?

Finally, I identify concrete examples of how to provide the best support for survivors, depending on the stage of their healing. I conclude specific examples and implications for anyone who might want help.


Community Psychology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Women's Studies

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