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As college students—especially college students who study and aim to specialize in trauma psychology—we cannot ignore the epidemic of sexual assault that seems to especially permeate university life. Combinations of proximity, the thrill of freedom and convenient access to substance use (often for the first time in a student’s life) have often been cited as reasons that this is the case (Armstrong et al., 2006). However, universities often ignore some of the major negative consequences that assault can have on a student’s life. Interpersonal trauma is “particularly damaging” for individuals, as it tends to produce higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder, physical ailments and negative psychological outcomes (Smith & Freyd, 2013, p. 119).
Two factors that commonly exacerbate feelings of trauma for survivors are substance abuse and a lack of social support, especially through institutional betrayal. We were interested in the experience of survivors on our own campus. With the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the Kavanaugh v. Dr. Blasey-Ford hearings and so much other international news centered on the issue, we were curious to examine how the student population of a private Midwestern university was coping with potential trauma, specifically through the lens of the aforementioned factors.

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