Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Barbara Herlihy, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Roxane Dufrene, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michele Caruso, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Matthew Lyons, Ph.D.


A qualitative phenomenological design was used to explore the lived experiences of college women who reported sexual assault to law enforcement officials. Utilizing a feminist conceptual framework, the purpose of the present study was to identify the essence of the reporting experience for college women who experienced a sexual assault. Six college women agreed to participate in the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with open-ended questions to better understand the experience of the phenomenon under investigation. The Modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen Method of Analysis of Phenomenological Data (Moustakas, 1994) was utilized for analysis of the data collected in order to identify meaning units and themes. Four common themes emerged from the narratives of the six participants: Making the Decision to Report, Internal Experience of the Reporting Process, Following the Report, and Making the Report. The identified themes contributed to the participant descriptions, which highlighted the essence of the participants’ lived experiences of reporting sexual assault to law enforcement. The identified themes provided insight into how counselors can better serve college women who have reported or are considering reporting sexual assault to law enforcement officials. Implications for counselor educators, college counselors, and campus police and off-campus police officers were also addressed.


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